Aug 13, 2013

    'Likes' attract more 'likes'

    POSITIVE opinions are more influential than negative ones, at least on the Internet.

    If an article is "liked" on a website such as Facebook or Reddit, new readers are more likely to approve of it, said a study published in the journal Science.

    While the positive reactions create a "herding" effect, negative views do not appear to affect people the same way.

    Using an undisclosed news-aggregation website, the scientists tinkered with the favourable ratings of certain comments on the site.

    The comments that got a positive boost from the researchers subsequently took off in popularity, getting a 25 per cent higher rating, on average, from other users.

    In other words, people believed the hype - at least some of the time. But that was not always a good thing, researchers said.

    "If someone's made a comment about a product I want to buy, I assume it's useful if it's been voted up and not useful if it's voted down," said economics professor Matthew Jackson at Stanford University, who was not involved in the research.

    Stories categorised as politics, culture and society, and business generated the positive bandwagon response, while those under economics, information technology, fun and general news did not.

    And when the site altered ratings in a negative direction, people were more sceptical and were more likely to cancel out a negative vote with a positive vote, the study found.