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We report on human-subject experiments on the problems of coloring (a social differentiation task) and consensus (a social agreement task) in a networked setting. Both tasks can be viewed as coordination games, and despite their cognitive similarity, we find that within a parameterized family of social networks, network structure elicits opposing behavioral effects in the two problems, with increased long-distance connectivity making consensus easier for subjects and coloring harder. We investigate the influence that subjects have on their network neighbors and the collective outcome, and find that it varies considerably, beyond what can be explained by network position alone.We also find strong correlations between influence and other features of individual subject behavior. In contrast to much of the recent research in network science, which often emphasizes network topology out of the context of any specific problem and places primacy on network position, our findings highlight the potential importance of the details of tasks and individuals in social networks.
Date Posted: 04 November 2010
This document has been peer reviewed.