The Burden of Social Proof: Shared Thresholds and Social Influence
Stanford Law School
December 14, 2011
UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper
Social influence rises with the number of influence sources, but the proposed relationship varies across theories, situations, and research paradigms. To clarify this relationship, I argue that people share some sense of where the “burden of social proof” lies in situations where opinions or choices are in conflict. This suggests a family of models sharing two key parameters, one corresponding to the location of the influence threshold, and the other reflecting its clarity – a factor that explains why discrete “tipping points” are not observed more frequently. The plausibility and implications of this account are examined using Monte Carlo and cellular automata simulations and the relative fit of competing models across classic datasets in the conformity, group deliberation, and social diffusion literatures.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 90
Keywords: norms, social influence, jury deliberation, conformity
JEL Classification: C92, D71, K42
Date posted: August 2, 2009 ; Last revised: December 14, 2011
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