Decision Making in Online Social Networks Minitrack

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We take decisions every moment of our lives. What do we eat? Where do we eat? Which phone to buy? Do we rent or buy? Whom should we date? Where should we live? What should be our career? For every one of these decisions we turn to online social networks (OSN) to seek information, advice, and support.

Online Social Communities and Networks (OSN) have become widely popular as a source of data or reference for those seeking advice. With accelerated speed there are more and more websites tapping into the ‘wisdom of crowds’ as a source of information that influences our everyday decision-making. The internet has revolutionised the manner in which individuals obtain the information they need to make decisions.

Decision-making (DM) is a complex process and an integral part of every individual's life. DM is the cognitive process resulting in the identification and selection of alternatives based on the values, preferences and knowledge of the decision-maker. The processes by which people make decisions range from the structured to the anarchical.

Using OSN can accelerate or decelerate the DM process for both individuals and communities through the accessing of data from multiple sources. Its ubiquitous nature allows the process to be widely distributed, democratised, deconstructed, and diversified, through sheer speed and scale of change. The rapid adoption of OSN across the spectrum of users raises many interesting questions about its dynamics. It is apparent that properly governed and designed OSN can play an important role in supporting different types of decision-making, as they provide their users with various forms of support, ranging from the instrumental to the emotional and informational. Almost certainly, the main benefits of OSN are that they tend to be free and they provide easily accessible information, largely unconstrained by geographical barriers.

The challenges that face users of OSN are information overload and a wide range of online information sources that can complicate decision-making and lead to delays. The potential risk emanates from the use of irrelevant or inaccurate information or from misunderstanding relevant information when making decisions. Over the years, the decision-making process has been explained through several models, among which the rational and anarchical models have emerged as important representations of decision-making dynamics. The problem is that the most referenced decision-making theories, frameworks, models and concepts were developed in the early 20th century when the influence of online connection and collaboration could not be foreseen. Therefore, it is anachronistic to examine contemporary decision-making practice: the decision-makers and the ways decisions are made have evolved over the intervening years. The other problem with existing literature on DM is that the models are theoretical, outside the context of real decisions that should be exemplified in real decision situations by real people. While ample independent research exists on OSN and DM, there is a lack of research into how online technology affects the making of decisions that have an impact on our lives. How do we use OSN in our most important everyday decision-making? The synergy of these themes provides a unique research perspective from which to take a fresh look at both DM research and the actual process of DM as it is affected by the use of OSN.

The main purpose of this mini track is to explore and extend, as well as challenge, existing knowledge of OSN and DM. We hope to:

  • understand and ascertain whether OSN can support and empower users in their decision-making process and particular phases;
  • identify and conceptualise new phases (if any) in the decision-making process that is integral to OSN conversations;
  • explore the structure and sequence of decision-making phases arising out of the use of OSN
  • identify biases, strengths and weaknesses of the human psyche that could be attenuated and/or enhanced through appropriate design of OSN for decision-making and
  • seek practical guidelines for the design of OSN that support blended decision-making processes that leverages the wisdom of crowds. We welcome conceptual, theoretical, and empirical papers that enrich our understanding of this. All methodological approaches are welcome.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Decision Making in OSN
  • The impact of OSN on Decision Making
  • Types of OSN for Decision Making
  • Decision Support in OSN
  • Typology of Users of OSN for Decision Making
  • Traditional and New Decision Models and Theories in OSN
  • Biases in OSN for Decision Making
  • Online vs Offline Decision Making
  • Structure of Decisions in OSN
  • Phases of Decision Making Processes in OSN
  • Decision Making Governance, Risk, and Compliance in OSN
  • OSN Security and Privacy
  • Decision Making Processes and Systems
  • Apps, Tools and Technologies for Decision Making

Minitrack Co-Chairs:

Valeria Sadovykh (Primary Contact)
PwC Singapore and University of Auckland

David Sundaram
The University of Auckland, New Zealand


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
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    The Power & Perspective of Mommy Bloggers: Formative Research with Social Media Opinion Leaders about HPV Vaccination
    ( 2017-01-04) Burke-Garcia, Amelia ; Berry, Corinne N. ; Kreps, Gary L. ; Wright, Kevin B.
    Since the development of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in 2006, significant promotion efforts have targeted adolescent females and their parents in order to reduce the incidence of HPV and related cancers. Yet vaccination rates for pre-adolescents (the recommended age of administration) still lag behind. Social media and social network campaigns hold promise not only for promoting broad awareness but also for influencing vaccination attitudes and behaviors by utilizing opinion leaders for message dissemination. This formative intervention study explored the feasibility of leveraging online ‘mommy bloggers’ as thought leaders and sources of influence in the promotion of HPV vaccine messages. Findings include insights into vaccine hesitancy amongst mommy bloggers; approaches for discussing HPV vaccination in the blogosphere; and engagement strategies for working with mommy bloggers.
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    Making Decisions about Self-Disclosure in Online Social Networks
    ( 2017-01-04) Heravi, Alireza ; Mani, Deepa ; Choo, Kim-Kwang Raymond ; Mubarak, Sameera
    This paper explores privacy calculus decision making processes for online social networks (OSN). Content analysis method is applied to analyze data obtained from face-to-face interviews and online survey with open-ended questions of 96 OSN users from different countries. The factors users considered before self-disclosing are explored. The perceived benefits and risks of using OSN and their impact on self-disclosure are also identified. We determine that the perceived risks of OSN usage hinder self-disclosure. It is not clear, however, whether the perceived benefits offset the impact of the risks on self-disclosure behavior. The findings as a whole do not support privacy calculus in OSN settings.
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    Guiding the Herd: The Effect of Reference Groups in Crowdfunding Decision Making
    ( 2017-01-04) Lei, Yu ; Yayla, Ali Alper ; Kahai, Surinder
    Despite their popularity, crowdfunding platforms are experiencing negative headlines as fully funded projects continue to fail delivering the products on time. Current literature postulates that funders make decisions by following the decisions of the crowd, and this herd behavior leads to less than optimal decisions. One explanation of the negative externalities of such behavior is the misfit between the information provided by the crowd and the information needed by funders. Especially in patronage crowdfunding, funders are investors and buyers at the same time. This duality coupled with the lack of supervision of projects creates unique challenges. In addition to opportunism uncertainty, funders face competence uncertainty. This study provides evidence that social information gathered from reference groups decrease these uncertainties. Further investigation showed that different reference groups provide different types of social information and product complexity plays a role in the uncertainties experienced and the importance given to different reference groups.
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    Decision Making Processes in Online Social Networks: A Comparative Analysis of Health and Financial Online Social Networks
    ( 2017-01-04) Sadovykh, Valeria ; Sundaram, David
    Health and finance are two aspects of life that are crucially important. Health and finance sites are the most frequently visited by online participants. The sheer volume of sites and the variety of information and advice available online on those two topics have left individuals with potentially greater support for their decision-making (DM) processes. This paper uses the Netnography qualitative research methodology to understand, explore, and identify the similarities and differences between, and unique features of Health and Financial Online Social Networks (OSNs). Specifically, this paper will study (1) the OSN - assisted DM process (2) the structure and sequence of DM phases in OSN’s and (3) the behaviour of OSN participants across networks. The results suggest that the DM process is supported in both types of OSNs, but the structure and the sequence of DM phases, as well as the participation style across participants on these networks are different.
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    Introduction to Decision Making in Online Social Networks Minitrack
    ( 2017-01-04) Sadovykh, Valeria ; Sundaram, David