The Majority Illusion in Social Networks

Social behaviors are often contagious, spreading through a population as individuals imitate the decisions and choices of others. A variety of global phenomena, from innovation adoption to the emergence of social norms and political movements, arise as a result of people following a simple local rule, such as copy what others are doing. However, individuals often lack global knowledge of the behaviors of others and must estimate them from the observations of their friends' behaviors. In some cases, the structure of the underlying social network can dramatically skew an individual's local observations, making a behavior appear far more common locally than it is globally. We trace the origins of this phenomenon, which we call "the majority illusion," to the friendship paradox in social networks. As a result of this paradox, a behavior that is globally rare may be systematically overrepresented in the local neighborhoods of many people, i.e., among their friends. Thus, the "majority illusion" may facilitate the spread of social contagions in networks and also explain why systematic biases in social perceptions, for example, of risky behavior, arise. Using synthetic and real-world networks, we explore how the "majority illusion" depends on network structure and develop a statistical model to calculate its magnitude in a network.


Folksonomies: cognitive bias

/technology and computing/internet technology/social network (0.343075)
/hobbies and interests/magic and illusion (0.259821)
/family and parenting (0.243904)

majority illusion (0.960483 (negative:-0.397098)), Networks Social behaviors (0.811628 (negative:-0.397098)), simple local rule (0.747606 (neutral:0.000000)), social networks (0.711699 (negative:-0.397098)), social norms (0.605382 (neutral:0.000000)), political movements (0.600332 (neutral:0.000000)), innovation adoption (0.600016 (neutral:0.000000)), friendship paradox (0.598242 (neutral:0.000000)), systematic biases (0.595072 (neutral:0.000000)), global phenomena (0.593036 (neutral:0.000000)), global knowledge (0.584244 (neutral:0.000000)), local observations (0.582146 (neutral:0.000000)), risky behavior (0.577157 (negative:-0.537417)), real-world networks (0.575737 (neutral:0.000000)), local neighborhoods (0.575630 (neutral:0.000000)), statistical model (0.575114 (neutral:0.000000)), social perceptions (0.574849 (neutral:0.000000)), social network (0.570557 (neutral:0.000000)), social contagions (0.566077 (neutral:0.000000)), network structure (0.558459 (neutral:0.000000)), result (0.487171 (negative:-0.573660)), individuals (0.474018 (neutral:0.000000)), people (0.468072 (neutral:0.000000)), emergence (0.443605 (neutral:0.000000)), magnitude (0.442951 (neutral:0.000000)), choices (0.442812 (neutral:0.000000)), decisions (0.440231 (neutral:0.000000)), population (0.437791 (neutral:0.000000)), phenomenon (0.437436 (neutral:0.000000)), variety (0.435736 (neutral:0.000000))

social networks:FieldTerminology (0.864376 (negative:-0.397098))

Sociology (0.949046): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Social network (0.708363): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Scientific method (0.507993): dbpedia | freebase
Friendship paradox (0.464759): dbpedia | freebase
Phenomenon (0.453295): dbpedia | freebase
Politics (0.453281): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Network theory (0.442361): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Networks (0.438272): dbpedia
Social networks (0.418847): dbpedia
Psychology (0.379412): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Network science (0.377920): dbpedia | freebase
Complex network (0.371248): dbpedia | freebase
Observation (0.362691): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Mathematics (0.353191): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Self-organization (0.338792): dbpedia | freebase
Statistics (0.336008): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Knowledge management (0.327915): dbpedia | freebase
Behavior (0.322402): dbpedia | freebase
Globalization (0.321786): dbpedia | freebase
Person (0.317076): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Social structure (0.314370): dbpedia | freebase
Individual (0.312986): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Friendship (0.312297): dbpedia | freebase
Spread (0.311933): dbpedia
Philosophy of science (0.311334): dbpedia | freebase
Perception (0.307309): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Human behavior (0.305014): dbpedia | freebase
Model theory (0.304912): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Computer network (0.304783): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 Majority Illusion in Social Networks
Periodicals>Journal Article:  Lerman, Yan, Wu , Majority Illusion in Social Networks, Retrieved on 2016-09-02
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: cognitive bias