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News Sharing and Voting on Social Networks: An Experimental Study

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Gallup Pakistan collaborated with Professor Matthew Shum (J. Stanley Johnson Professor of Economics in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences at California Institute of Technology), Kirill Pogorelskiy (Assistant Professor of Economics at The University of Warwick) and Umar Taj (Research Fellow in the Behavioural Science Group at Warwick Business School) to study the relationship between news sharing and voting on social networks.

Abstract of the forthcoming paper:

We study the relationship between social media and information aggregation by voting. Our experimental treatments mimic the features of social networks in the presence of media bias in order to address concerns that voters obtaining their political news via social media may become more polarized in their voting behaviour. Our results suggest substantial effects of polarization at the expense of efficient information aggregation: subjects engage in “liking” behaviour by selectively sharing the news that is favourable to their party and down weighting unfavourable news in their voting decisions. At the same time, social networks raise collective decision making efficiency, if there is no media bias. All in all, subjects behave as if information sharing and voting is expressive of their party preferences even when (by design) their preferences have a common value component. We supplement lab results with survey evidence from Pakistan, and find that it is broadly consistent with these patterns.

You can download the paper from: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2972231

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