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ERIC Number: EJ889516
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Dec
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 70
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0190-2725
Leading the Herd Astray: An Experimental Study of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies in an Artificial Cultural Market
Salganik, Matthew J.; Watts, Duncan J.
Social Psychology Quarterly, v71 n4 p338-355 Dec 2008
Individuals influence each others' decisions about cultural products such as songs, books, and movies; but to what extent can the perception of success become a "self-fulfilling prophecy"? We have explored this question experimentally by artificially inverting the true popularity of songs in an online "music market," in which 12,207 participants listened to and downloaded songs by unknown bands. We found that most songs experienced self-fulfilling prophecies, in which perceived--but initially false--popularity became real over time. We also found, however, that the inversion was not self-fulfilling for the market as a whole, in part because the very best songs recovered their popularity in the long run. Moreover, the distortion of market information reduced the correlation between appeal and popularity, and led to fewer overall downloads. These results, although partial and speculative, suggest a new approach to the study of cultural markets, and indicate the potential of web-based experiments to explore the social psychological origin of other macrosociological phenomena. (Contains 9 figures, 4 tables, and 11 footnotes.)
SAGE Publications. 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320. Tel: 800-818-7243; Tel: 805-499-9774; Fax: 800-583-2665; e-mail: journals@sagepub.com; Web site: http://sagepub.com
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A