Influentials, Networks, and Public Opinion Formation


Work data:

Type of work: Article (academic)


e-Business & e-Commerce | Social Media & Social Software


A central idea in marketing and diffusion research is that influentials—a minority of individuals who influence an exceptional number of their peers—are important to the formation of public opinion. Here we examine this idea, which we call the “influentials hypothesis,” using a series of computer simulations of interpersonal influence processes. Under most conditions that we consider, we find that large cascades of influence are driven not by influentials, but by a critical mass of easily influenced individuals. Although our results do not exclude the possibility that influentials can be important, they suggest that the influentials hypothesis requires more careful specification and testing than it has received.