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Best paper award

posted Nov 18, 2014, 1:27 AM by Michael Maes   [ updated Jan 27, 2016, 5:59 AM ]
Our working paper on the effects of web personalization on opinion polarization was awarded the best paper award of the Workshop on Social Influence at th International Conference  on Social Informatics (SocInfo 2014).


Pundits and scholars have warned that the personalization of the web and in particular of online social networks fosters interaction between likeminded users and amplifies the polarization of political opinions. We criticize, however, that this warning is based on one particular polarization model and that an alternative and equally prominent theory implies the exact opposite effect, predicting that personalization fosters consensus rather than polarization. We develop a general modeling framework to compare the predictions of the competing models. Using agent-based modeling, we formally demonstrate that the two theories make contradicting predictions and study the conditions of polarization. In conclusion, we call for empirical research on the competing assumptions of the two models, discussing major roadblocks and novel methods to overcome them.

You can download the working paper here.