Experimenting with the "Wisdom of the Crowds": The Anchoring Effect

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Information about Experimenting with the "Wisdom of the Crowds": The Anchoring Effect

Published on March 3, 2009

Author: selcukatli



Presentation of my Flex project for the Internet Marketing class at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute . It is an online behavior / sociology experiment that I have co-designed and conducted.

We tried to see the influence of public opinion perceived over online mediums on the individual expression of opinion. We tried to see how an artificial manipulation on perceived public opinion influence individual expression.

For that, we developed an online survey where users could vote and comment to give an answer to the question "What do you expect from the bail out?". The catch is, after a certain point in time, the survey splits into two:

- the neutral survey with non-manipulated public opinions
- the manipulated survey where we negate all the votes associated with every comment

At the end, we analyzed our results to quantitatively observe how much of a change in terms of popularity has our manipulation caused on each comment. Ideally, this calculation should show us how much our change on perceived public opinion has influenced the individual expression of opinions.

Please contact for further details.

Selcuk Atli

Experimenting with the Wisdom of the Crowds The Anchoring Effect Prepared by Alex Volinsky Selcuk Atli Judd Rattner Geetanjali Sharma Sheldon Gay Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wisdom of the Crowds • Anyone can say Anything about Anything • Trust Based Evaluation • Expression of Opinion • Collective Wisdom • Could we experiment with this process? • Could we manipulate the perceived collective wisdom? Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hypothesis • “Making artificial changes to the anchoring of certain opinion items should lead to a change in perceived public opinion and affect the expressive behavior of future visitors” • Absolute collective wisdom? • Visibility of opinions? • Association with trust? • Does the immersed balloon float back on the surface of water? Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Experiment • A Classical Online Survey • User Interactions • Browse • Vote (max. 3) • Comment Tuesday, March 3, 2009

But there is a catch • After a certain point in time, we split the survey in two forums • The natural forum • The manipulated forum: reversed votes • New-coming visitors are shared between these two forums 50%-50% • After enough interactions, the system shuts down Tuesday, March 3, 2009

System Flow of the Experiment !quot;#$%&'7' A,4&' !quot;#$%&'(' ),' B%/' )quot;*+%#' B%/' !456.' )quot;*+%#' !quot;#$%&'(' ,-'$,.%/' !quot;#$%&/' ,-'$,.%/' 0'12'3' 0'923' A,4&' ),' ),' !quot;#$%&'(' )%>?.%'' !:quot;.;,<=' @,.%/' !quot;#$%&'78' Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mathematical Model of Analysis A: Survey before split B: Neutral survey after split B’: Manipulated survey after split CAi = The number of votes associated with the ith comment on survey A CBi = The number of votes associated with the ith comment on survey B CBi’ = The ith comment on survey B’ ∆Bi = CBi - CAi ∆Bi’ = CBi’ - CAi’ ∆Xi = ∆Bi’ - ∆Bi ∆Bi: How much the ith comment’s popularity changed after split on the neutral survey ∆B’:’ How much the ith comment’s popularity has changed after split on the negated survey ∆Xi: How much the negation of comment i has impacted the perception on visitors Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Voting Pattern Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Differential of Manipulation Comment Difference in Forums (∆B - ∆B') more jobs 9 tax cuts 2 Nothing! I dont care! 2 Money for small businesses 4 More money to support increasing tuition costs 2 None 1 Inflation 1 A Revolution -2 More debt for our children to deal with... good work Congress 2 Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Differential of Manipulation !quot;#$%$&'$(quot;&(-&.quot;&/()*+$,(012(3(1245( (%# '# &# !quot;#$%$&'$(quot;&()*+$,( quot;# $# %# M7N,+,8B1@# !$# !quot;# )*+,#-*./# 012#340/# 5*06789:#;# =*8,>#?*+# =*+,#)*8,># =*+,#<,.0#?*+# 5*8,# ;8I1B*8# J#K,L*@4B*8# <*80#31+,:# /)1@@# 0*#/4AA*+0# *4+#367@<+,8# .4/78,//,/# 783+,1/789# 0*#<,1@#C706DDD# 047B*8#3*/0/# 9**<#C*+E# F*89+,//G#9@1<# 06,#A4.@73#9*0# 0*#/,,#06,#.7@@# H+/0D# Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Observations • Users tend to give higher value to pre-conceived items • Users tend to comment rather than vote when faced with inferior comments • Users do not reliably review all existing comments • Users express group mentalities over inferior results Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Future Research • Re-iterate with different survey questions • Increase sample size • Isolate correlations • More parameters (e.g. browse time) Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thanks Questions? Tuesday, March 3, 2009

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