Saturday, 24 January 2015

Day 271:Do we all like what we think we like? Science behind Choice Manipulation


images “”If you are doubtful, consider a brilliant study of music downloads. Sociologist Matthew Salganik and his coauthors conclude that there is a lot of serendipity in which music succeeds and which fails, and that small differences in early popularity make a major difference in ultimate success. In business, many people are aware of this point— but not nearly aware enough. They underrate the extent to which success or failure depends on what happens shortly after launch and frequently overrate the contributions of intrinsic merit.

Lev Muchnik, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and his colleagues carried out an ingenious experiment on a website that displays a diverse array of stories and allows people to post comments, which can in turn be voted up or down. With respect to the posted comments, the website compiles an aggregate score, which comes from subtracting the number of down- votes from the number of up- votes. To put a metric on the effects of social influences, the researchers explored three conditions: (1) “ up- treated,” in which a comment, when it appeared, was automatically and artificially given an immediate up- vote; (2) “ down- treated,” in which a comment, when it appeared, was automatically and artificially given an immediate down- vote; and (3) “control,” in which comments did not receive any artificial initial signal. Millions of site visitors were randomly assigned to one of the three conditions. The question: What would be the ultimate effect of an initial up- vote or down- vote?

You might well think that after so many visitors (and hundreds of thousands of ratings), a single initial vote could not possibly matter. Some comments are good, and some comments are bad, and in the end, quality will win out. It’s a sensible thought, but if you thought it, you would be wrong. After seeing an initial up- vote (and recall that it was entirely artificial), the next viewer became 32 percent more likely also to give an up- vote. What’s more, this effect persisted over time. After five months, a single positive initial vote artificially increased the mean rating of comments by a whopping 25 percent! It also significantly increased turnout (the total number of ratings).””

We like to follow. Since birth we learn how to copy behavior from other humans. We imitate things in our surrounding as we grow up, from learning how to crawl to learning how to walk and talk. And that is still with us till the day we die.

Looking at the research done here we can see what a mayor impact a single upvote can have on a video or an article or even a comment, where an upvote means that the next person will most likely upvote the article or video or comment simply because somebody else did. And funny enough – big business knows this about us and exploits it, yet we ourselves are not even aware of it. How many artists and songs that were and are popular got there based simply on successful early Artificial popularity boost?

This means that the things we like and upvote in life and on the internet is not just because we actually like it, but because somebody ( or something ) else liked it and simply followed. This brings to question just how many of our choices in our lives are truly independent – truly our own? Do I really like this or do I like it because somebody else did?

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