The Spread of Behavior in an Online Social Network Experiment

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Science  03 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5996, pp. 1194-1197
DOI: 10.1126/science.1185231

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  1. Fig. 1

    Randomization of participants to clustered-lattice and random-network conditions in a single trial of this study (N = 128, Z = 6). In each condition, the black node shows the focal node of a neighborhood to which an individual is being assigned, and the red nodes correspond to that individual’s neighbors in the network. In the clustered-lattice network, the red nodes share neighbors with each other, whereas in the random network they do not. White nodes indicate individuals who are not connected to the focal node.

  2. Fig. 2

    Time series showing the adoption of a health behavior spreading through clustered-lattice (solid black circles) and random (open triangles) social networks. Six independent trials of the study are shown, including (A) N = 98, Z = 6, (B to D) N = 128, Z = 6, and (E and F) N = 144, Z = 8. The success of diffusion was measured by the fraction of the total network that adopted the behavior. The speed of the diffusion process was evaluated by comparing the time required for the behavior to spread to the greatest fraction reached by both conditions in each trial.

  3. Fig. 3

    Hazard ratios for adoption for individuals receiving two, three, and four social signals. The hazard ratio g indicates that the likelihood of adoption increases by a factor of g for each additional signal k, compared to the likelihood of adoption from receiving k – 1 signals. The 95% confidence intervals from the Cox proportional hazards model are shown by error bars. The effect of an additional signal on the likelihood of adoption is significant if the 95% confidence interval does not contain g = 1 (13).

  4. Fig. 4

    Cumulative distribution functions of the number of return visits to the health forum (x) for populations of adopters grouped by the number of signals that they received. Comparisons are shown for adopters who received (A) one versus two signals, (B) one versus three signals, (C) one versus four signals, and (D) one versus five signals. All pairwise comparisons between groups two through five with each other showed no significant differences (P > 0.4 for all six comparisons, using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test) (13).