The Distribution of Initial Estimates Moderates the Effect of Social Influence on the Wisdom of the Crowd

Abdullah Almaatouq*, M. Amin Rahimian, Jason W. Burton, Abdulla Alhajri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Whether, and under what conditions, groups exhibit “crowd wisdom” has been a major focus of research across the social and computational sciences. Much of this work has focused on the role of social influence in promoting the wisdom of the crowd versus leading the crowd astray and has resulted in conflicting conclusions about how social network structure determines the impact of social influence. Here, we demonstrate that it is not enough to consider the network structure in isolation. Using theoretical analysis, numerical simulation, and reanalysis of four experimental datasets (totaling 2885 human subjects), we find that the wisdom of crowds critically depends on the interaction between (i) the centralization of the social influence network and (ii) the distribution of the initial individual estimates. By adopting a framework that integrates both the structure of the social influence and the distribution of the initial estimates, we bring previously conflicting results under one theoretical framework and clarify the effects of social influence on the wisdom of crowds.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16546
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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