Social Interaction and Peer Influence in Activity-Based Online Communities

Emma Spiro (Co-PI), Zack Almquist (Co-PI)

Individuals are influenced by their social networks. People adjust not only their opinions and attitudes, but also their behaviors based on both direct and indirect interaction with peers. Questions about social influence are particularly salient for activity-based behaviors; indeed much attention has been paid to promoting healthy habits through social interaction in online communities. A particularly interesting implication of peer influence in these settings is the potential for network-based interventions that utilize network processes to promote or contain certain behaviors or actions in a population; however, the first step toward designing such intervention strategies is to understand how, when, and to what extent social signals delivered via social interaction influence behavior. This project fills this gap by using digital traces of behaviors in online platforms to observe and understand how social networks and interactions are associated with behavior and behavior change.