Sunday, May 19th

​09:00 - 09:30 Morning Gathering

9:30 - 9:45 Opening Remarks

​09:45 - 10:30  The Role of Incentivized Reviews: A Dynamic Perspective

Michael Trusov, SDA Bocconi

User-generated product reviews have become an important factor in driving business performance. Firms in retailing, restaurant, hotel and other industries employ various tactics to encourage review contribution from their customers. This study focuses on a particular approach to soliciting customers’ feedback by providing incentives. Using a large dataset of user-generated product reviews collected from the study investigates how incentivized reviews influence the dynamics of the reviewing system. The study examines two alternative mechanisms that may explain the behavioral patterns observed in the data: adjustment theory and motivation theory. The paper finds that consumers tend to adjust product evaluations downward when faced with prior incentivized reviews; however, the motivation to post a review is not affected by the presence of incentivized reviews contributed by others.

​10:30 - 10:45 ​Coffee Break

​10:45 - 11:30 When Intention to Share Increases Variety-Seeking: The Role of Self-Enhancement

David Dubois, Insead

Prompting consumers to share their purchases with others is a ubiquitous feature of contemporary consumer society, from social media to e-commerce platforms. This research proposes that merely asking to share a purchase with others (e.g., through sharing buttons or incentives to share offline) can increase consumers’ tendency to seek variety. We further argue that this effect occurs because thinking about sharing a purchase with others increases an option’s perceived social value and thus heightens the propensity to view and use variety as a signaling tool to others. Specifically, we propose that the effect (1) stems from increased self-enhancement and (2) is reduced (a) for purchases de facto visible to others such as conspicuous (vs. inconspicuous) goods and (b) among experts (vs. non-experts) in the consumption domain given the former tend to view and value less variety as a signaling tool than the latter. Five laboratory and online experiments using several product categories (chocolates, travel, and music) provide systematic evidence for the effect and for the moderating and mediating role of self-enhancement. These findings contribute to the literature on how consumers’ intention to share can alter consumption choices and shed new light on the use of variety as a signaling tool.

​11:30 – 11:45 Coffee Break

​11:45 - 12:30 Stochastic Seeding Strategies in Networks 

Dean Eckles, Massachusettes Institute of Technology (MIT)

When trying to maximize the adoption of a behavior in a population connected by a social network, it is common to strategize about where in the network to seed the behavior. Some seeding strategies require explicit knowledge of the network, which can be difficult to collect, while other strategies do not require such knowledge but instead rely on non-trivial stochastic ingredients. For example, one such stochastic seeding strategy is to select random network neighbors of random individuals, thus exploiting a version of the friendship paradox, whereby the friend of a random individual is expected to have more friends than a random individual. Empirical evaluations of these strategies have demanded large field experiments designed specifically for this purpose, but these experiments have yielded relatively imprecise estimates of the relative efficacy of these seeding strategies. Here we show both how stochastic seeding strategies can be evaluated using existing data arising from randomized experiments in networks designed for other purposes and how to design much more efficient experiments for this specific evaluation. In particular, we consider contrasts between two common stochastic seeding strategies and analyze nonparametric estimators adapted from policy evaluation or importance sampling. We relate this work to developments in the literatures on counterfactual policy evaluation, dynamic treatment regimes, and importance sampling. Using simulations on real networks, we show that the proposed estimators and designs can dramatically increase precision while yielding valid inference. We apply our proposed estimators to a field experiment that randomly assigned households to an intensive marketing intervention and a field experiment that randomly assigned students to an anti-bullying intervention.

​12:30 - 13:45 Lunch

​13:45 - 14:30 Extremity Bias in Online Reviews:  A Field Experiment

Dina Mayzlin, University of Southern California

In a range of studies across many platforms, submitted online ratings have been shown to be characterized by a distribution with disproportionately-heavy tails. These have been referred to as "j-shaped" or "extreme" distributions. Our focus in this paper is on understanding the underlying process that yields such a distribution. We develop a simple analytical model to capture the most-common explanations: differences in utility associated with posting extreme vs moderate reviews, and differences in base rates associated with extreme vs moderate reviews. We compare the predictions of these explanations with those of an alternative memory-based explanation based on customers forgetting about writing a review over time. The forgetting rate, by assumption, is higher for moderate reviews. The three models yield stark differences in the predicted dynamics of extremity bias. To test our predictions, we use data from a large-scale field experiment with an online travel platform. In this experiment, we varied the time at which the firm sent out a review solicitation email. Specifically, the time of review solicitation ranged between one and nine days after the end of one’s vacation. This manipulation allows us to observe the extremity dynamics over an extended period both before and after the firm’s solicitation email. Our results clearly support the predictions from the memory-based explanation, but are inconsistent with those from the utility-based and base-rate explanations.

​14:30 - 14:45 Coffee Break

​14:45 - 15:30 The Dual Effect of Perceived Centrality on Conformity to Group Preference

Edith Shalev, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya

Central consumers — consumers with many ties in their social network — can be influential within their communities. Marketers keenly target them and expect to profit from their word-of-mouth. However, does the central consumer indeed shape the group’s preference, or alternatively, gravitate toward the popular opinion of the group? Extant research has yielded mixed findings, portraying the central consumer sometimes as susceptible and sometimes as impervious to social influence. The current research seeks to reconcile the seemingly inconsistent findings in the literature. To that end, we focus on the psychological states that emanate from the individual’s perception of his/her centrality. We propose a dual effect framework and, across five studies, show that perceived centrality affects conformity to group preferences via two opposing processes: elevated self-perceived status and enhanced identification with the group. Self-perceived status decreases while group-identification increases conformity to group preferences. Accordingly, the net effect of perceived centrality on conformity to group preferences depends on which psychological state, self-perceived status or group identification, is more pronounced. 

​15:30 – 15:45 Coffee Break

​15:45 - 16:30 Social Media Consumption and Psychological Well-Being

Andrew Stephen, University of Oxford

Social media is an important part of daily life. More than 3.2 billion users spend on average 135 minutes per day “consuming” social media. Thus, the extent to which this consumption is good or bad for us is worth examining. The current research focuses on this issue, specifically identifying whether time spent on social media is associated with positive or negative effects on users’ psychological well-being. Extant evidence on the impacts of social media use are mixed and, unfortunately, much of the prior research is based on small samples or is methodologically limited. This research considers the question of whether time spent using social media has a positive or negative effect on psychological well-being using a more robust empirical approach, employing a longitudinal research design in which participants were observed over six months in which daily unobtrusive measures of social media use and biweekly survey measures of wellbeing were taken. Overall, there was a small but significant positive effect of time spent using social media on psychological wellbeing. Delving deeper into this effect, social media platforms were classified based on the extent to which they tend to foster “meaningful” social ties and relationships with known others (friends and family) versus doing other things such as providing news or allowing consumers to follow strangers. Time spent using platforms that foster meaningful relationship had a positive effect on psychological wellbeing. Time spent using other types of social media platforms, however, did not have a significant effect on psychological wellbeing.

Monday, May 20th

​09:00 - 09:30 Morning Gathering

​09:30 - 10:15 Measuring TV Audiences Using Online Social and Search Data

Shawndra Hill, Microsoft Research NYC

Viewers of TV shows are increasingly taking to online sites like Facebook and Twitter to comment about the shows they watch as well as to contribute content about their daily lives.   In addition, viewers search for content on Google and Bing about TV shows before during and after they air.  We develop methods to mine online behavioral data from viewers for TV audience insights. We show social and search data can be used to calculate the affinity between TV shows and to describe how and why certain shows are similar in terms of their audiences in a privacy friendly way.  In addition, we show how social and search data enable an understanding of the content preferences of users, and how these preferences vary systematically based on whether the behavior is observed before, during, or after a TV show is aired. The talk will provide managerial implications for TV shows, networks and search engines.                 

​10:15- 10:30 ​Coffee Break

​10:30 - 11:15 Trickle-Round Signals: When Low Status Is Mixed with High              

Silvia Bellezza, Columbia Business School 

Trickle-down theories suggest that status symbols and fashion trends originate from the elites and move downward, but some high-end restaurants serve lowbrow food (e.g., potato chips, macaroni and cheese), and some high-status individuals wear downscale clothing (e.g., ripped jeans, duct-taped shoes). Why would high-status actors adopt items traditionally associated with low-status groups? We use a signaling perspective to explain this phenomenon, suggesting that elites adopt some items associated with low-status groups as a costly signal to distinguish themselves from middle-status individuals. As a result, signals sometimes trickle round, moving directly from the lower to the upper class, before diffusing to the middle class. Furthermore, consistent with a signaling perspective, the presence of multiple signaling dimensions facilitates this effect, enabling the highs to mix and match high and low signals and differentiate themselves. These findings deepen the understanding of signaling dynamics, support a trickle-round theory of fashion, and shed light on alternative status symbols. 

​11:15 - 11:30 ​Coffee Break

​11:30 - 12:15 Panel Discussion

​12:15- 13:30 Lunch

​13:30 – 21:00 Trip to Jerusalem