Are you likely to respond more to your girl friends' Facebook posts? In an interesting new study published in the journal Science, researchers at NYU have found that women are able to exert more influence over men than over women—at least on Facebook. How? It all started with a simple app.


Participants were given an app that allowed them to rate movies and actors among others. Every time the app is used, Facebook randomly sends it to the users’ friends while researchers wait to see who among the lot would be inclined to try the app for themselves. About 42,000 messages were sent to 1.3 million friends. Some of the results are as follows:

-Men are 49 percent more influential than women but women are 12 percent less susceptible than men.

-Women exert 46 percent more power over men than over women.

-People who are single are 113 percent more influential than people who are in a relationship and 128 percent more influential than those who say that their status is complicated.

-However, people who are married are 140 percent more influential than people who are simply in a relationship and 158 percent more influential than those who say their relationship is complicated.

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-Facebook users over age 30 have more influence than young users.

Since the Facebook app updates were sent randomly, there was a reduced risk of homophily bias. Homophily refers to the similarities you and some people in your Facebook friends list have in common. Still, the study has only been tested on one app. There is no guarantee that a different app will yield the same results. After all, one person’s interesting app may be somebody’s idea of spam. More research needs to be done on the who commands the strongest social influence.

(Photo by YangChen(TW) via Flickr Creative Commons)

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