The Effects of Social communication Dynamics on Opinion Change

Many social interactions are characterized by dynamic interplay, such that individuals exert reciprocal influence over each other’s behaviors and opinions. The present study investigated 3how the dynamics of reciprocal influence affect decisions made in a social context, over and above the information communicated in an interaction. To this end, we developed a simple social decision-making paradigm in which two people are asked to make perceptual judgments while receiving information about each other’s decisions. In a Static condition, information about the partner only conveyed their initial, independent judgment.  However, in a Dynamic condition, each individual saw the evolving opinion of their partner as they learned about and responded to the individual’s own judgment. The results indicated that in both conditions, the majority of confidence adjustments followed a step function characterized by an abrupt change followed by smaller adjustments around equilibrium and that participants’ confidence was used to arbitrate conflict (although deviating from Bayesian norm). Crucially, the interaction had systematic effects on opinion change relative to the Static baseline,  magnifying confidence change when partners agreed and reducing confidence change when they disagreed. These findings indicate that during dynamic interactions—often a characteristic of real-life and online social contexts—information is collectively transformed rather than acted upon by individuals in isolation.  Consequently, the output of social events is not only influenced by what the dyad knows but also by predictable non-linear and self-reinforcing dynamics.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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