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An Experimental Approach to Identify Perceived Opinion Formation Thresholds from Social Media

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CCDC Army Research Laboratory Aberdeen Proving Ground United States

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Passive social media consumption can result in the formation of an individuals opinion. If an individual trusts the veracity of the social media information, such newly formed opinion becomes a belief, and it has been argued that the purpose of belief is to guide action. Therefore, it is important to understand how social media information contributes toward the opinion formation of individuals because it may shape their future actions. The present study aims to identify thresholds estimated or perceived by an individual for the amount of social media data needed to form an individuals opinion. The goals of the current study are to accomplish the following 1 identify perceived opinion formation thresholds for three distinct social media data-types i.e., Images, Videos, and Messages, 2 understand the influence of different contexts i.e., Low controversy, Medium controversy, High controversy, and None over opinion formation thresholds, and 3 determine how opinion formation thresholds change with the source of social media information i.e., Unknown or unspecified, Like-minded or similar perspectives, and Different-minded or diverse perspectives. An experiment on Amazon Mechanical Turk MTurk was performed and the results of 945 participants were analyzed. The results yield several findings 1 opinion formation thresholds represented as population averages are identified across the three distinct data-types, 2 context has marginal influence over opinion formation thresholds, and 3 influence from sources depends on the data-type. These results provide an empirically derived set of opinion formation thresholds that correspond to different dimensions of social media information.

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report,25 May 2018,15 Jun 2019



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Approved For Public Release;

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