People are more influenced by reading positive opinions being expressed online while negative opinions do not influence much, a new study reveals.
According to a study co-authored by an MIT professor found that there are certain topics, including politics which see much more of the 'herding' effect than others.
Research professor Sinan Aral said that the 'herding behaviour' happens systematically on positive signals of quality and ratings adding that people are more skeptical of negative social influence and they are more likely to 'correct' a negative vote and give it a positive vote.
The study found that the positive ratings also represent bias and inflation and revealed that topics such as 'politics', 'culture and society' and 'business' generated positive herding, but stories posted under the topics of 'economics', 'IT', 'fun' and 'general news' did not.
Aral said that it is hard to distinguish the effect of high quality from the effect of social influence bias. It could be that past positive ratings have snowballed to create a high score, or it could just be that those items likely to get high scores are just of high quality.
He further explained that there is a need of solid science to understand exactly how these mechanisms work in a broad population, what that means for the diffusion of opinion and how can fair systems can be designed to have less incentives for manipulation and fraud, and be safe in aggregating opinions.