Political Beliefs and Bias in Social Network Formation – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Political Beliefs and Bias in Social Network Formation

Emma Dimilia


Pronouns: she/her

Research Mentor(s): Clinton McKenna, Graduate Student
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Psychology, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 1 (10am-10:50am)
Breakout Room: Room 6
Presenter: 7

Event Link


This project investigates how social networks change during divisive political discussion. In a behavioral experiment, we place student participants in a random communication network with up to 20 others. Participants discuss campus social issues over the course of several rounds. At each round, participants are exposed to differing opinions of their connections and make decisions to “rewire” their network, or to add, drop, or request new social connections to communicate with in the next round. We measure how individuals make these network decisions at both the individual and group level. We also experimentally manipulate a social cue that reveals the closeness of another person in relation to the participant. Experimental sessions are conducted remotely and anonymously, simulating interaction as it might occur on social media. Our data help understand the biases that lead people to form echo chambers, which may contribute to downstream consequences of biased information sharing, misinformation spread, and misbeliefs about public opinion.

Authors: Neha Sure, Emma Dimilia, Clinton McKenna
Research Method: Data Collection and Analysis

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