Research Objectives

The key objective of this research project is to develop a novel theoretical framework in which network formation and information diffusion can be analysed taking into account aspects of modern behavioural economics. The theory shall be challenged using controlled laboratory experiments. In the course of this project I shall consecutively

  1. provide an integrated theoretical approach to network formation, incorporating diffusion processes and behavioural economics, which identifies the key factors that lead to the under-provision of information, the segregation of the society, and inefficient outcomes in the subsequent collective decision making;
  2. provide experimental evidence for systemic biases in the aggregation of information that depend on individuals' prior beliefs;
  3. experimentally identify changes in people's communication networks after receiving unwelcome news;
  4. experimentally investigate whether optimists are more influential than pessimists;
The findings of this research project shall not only increase our theoretical understanding of the dynamics in social networks, but also support policy makers in developing measures against the abuse of social media for propaganda or vigilantism.