|M.Sc Student||Kravets Margarita|
|Subject||Do High Centrality Consumers Search More?|
The Effect of Centrality on Active Information
Search and Conformity to the Norm
|Department||Department of Industrial Engineering and Management||Supervisors||DR. Kinneret Tedorescu|
|DR. Edith Shalev|
|Full Thesis text|
How does one's position in a social network influences his engagement in active information search? Previous research suggested that individuals with high centrality are more influential than others, and are assigned a key role in the flow of information over the network. This is partly because high centrality individuals are more knowledgeable than others. It is often assumed that centrals gain their informational advantage due to their structural position. According to this reasoning, information flows at the central even if the latter does not seek it. However, there are reasons to believe that centrals are engaged in active information search.
Building on the finding that centrals have a greater reported need for social information than marginals (Lahav, 2016), in the current research we posit that when compared to marginals, centrals will activily search more for social information. Moreover, our theoretical framework suggest that central's greater interest in information is related to two contradicting motivations: affiliation need and the need for uniqueness. According to these motivations, the central might conform or diverge from social norms.
Therefore, we designed an exploratory research in order to understand whether central individuals actively search more for information and if they conform or diverge from the obtained information. We conducted three studies: study 1 & 2 within the context of an online social network in which we manipulated centrality and study 3 within the context of a real social network in which we measured centrality.
The studies yielded inconclusive results. While in study 1 a centrality and gender interaction appeared, study 2 revealed marginally significant centrality effect, however, it was contrary to our hypothesized search direction. Study 3 results were reversed and not sufficient for inferring further assumptions. Implications of the findings are discussed.