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Idea Propagation in Social Networks: The Role of ‘Cognitive Advantage’

Idea Propagation in Social Networks: The Role of ‘Cognitive Advantage’
Idea Propagation in Social Networks: The Role of ‘Cognitive Advantage’
Existing models of information transmission emphasize the role that structural factors play in the network-mediated spread of new ideas. Such models, however, often fail to account for the potentially significant role of psychological and cognitive factors in shaping the profile of idea propagation within culturally-circumscribed communities. The central thesis of this paper is that pre-existing culturally-shared idea networks play a significant role in the dynamics of socially-mediated information transmission. They do this, we suggest, by determining the relative ‘cognitive advantage’ of particular ideas. The cognitive advantage of an idea is, in broad terms, the acceptability of an idea to a particular community, and it contributes, we argue, to the differential rate of spread of specific ideas through a social network. Understanding the cognitive advantage of an idea requires a detailed understanding of the background beliefs and values with which a new idea must interact and sometimes compete with in order to become fully established. Thus, just as the success of a new species in a particular ecological niche is determined by an existing nexus of inter-species relationships, so too the acceptability of a new idea is determined by an existing nexus of beliefs and values adopted by a particular community. In order to better understand the cognitive advantage of new ideas, we must develop a better understanding of the ‘cognitive niche’ into which new ideas are to be introduced. Cultural Network Analysis is a technique that enables us to analyze and represent the idea networks of specific cultural groups, and it therefore provides one means by which the cognitive advantage of new ideas may be evaluated. When combined with conventional approaches to modelling information flow and influence in social networks, we suggest that the notion of cognitive advantage allows us to better account for the profile of idea propagation within real-world communities. It therefore provides an important step towards the development of more ecologically-realistic models of group-level cognitive dynamics.
idea propagation, cultural groups, cultural network analysis, cultural models, cultural modelling, social networks, diffusion of innovations, memetics, cultural epidemiology, cultural transmission, military coalitions, cognitive advantage, belief propagation, network-enabled cognition, network science, communication networks, cultural analysis
Simpkins, Benjamin
df75156e-4633-4ac6-a146-99de4d98a4e5
Sieck, Winston
ac2c11f2-da8e-4d51-9e08-c741938db3ae
Smart, Paul
cd8a3dbf-d963-4009-80fb-76ecc93579df
Mueller, Shane
6cb40af5-5bf4-4091-875b-c79e81714f1e
Simpkins, Benjamin
df75156e-4633-4ac6-a146-99de4d98a4e5
Sieck, Winston
ac2c11f2-da8e-4d51-9e08-c741938db3ae
Smart, Paul
cd8a3dbf-d963-4009-80fb-76ecc93579df
Mueller, Shane
6cb40af5-5bf4-4091-875b-c79e81714f1e

(2010) Idea Propagation in Social Networks: The Role of ‘Cognitive Advantage’. 1st ITA Workshop on Network-Enabled Cognition: The Contribution of Social and Technological Networks to Human Cognition, United States. (In Press)

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

Existing models of information transmission emphasize the role that structural factors play in the network-mediated spread of new ideas. Such models, however, often fail to account for the potentially significant role of psychological and cognitive factors in shaping the profile of idea propagation within culturally-circumscribed communities. The central thesis of this paper is that pre-existing culturally-shared idea networks play a significant role in the dynamics of socially-mediated information transmission. They do this, we suggest, by determining the relative ‘cognitive advantage’ of particular ideas. The cognitive advantage of an idea is, in broad terms, the acceptability of an idea to a particular community, and it contributes, we argue, to the differential rate of spread of specific ideas through a social network. Understanding the cognitive advantage of an idea requires a detailed understanding of the background beliefs and values with which a new idea must interact and sometimes compete with in order to become fully established. Thus, just as the success of a new species in a particular ecological niche is determined by an existing nexus of inter-species relationships, so too the acceptability of a new idea is determined by an existing nexus of beliefs and values adopted by a particular community. In order to better understand the cognitive advantage of new ideas, we must develop a better understanding of the ‘cognitive niche’ into which new ideas are to be introduced. Cultural Network Analysis is a technique that enables us to analyze and represent the idea networks of specific cultural groups, and it therefore provides one means by which the cognitive advantage of new ideas may be evaluated. When combined with conventional approaches to modelling information flow and influence in social networks, we suggest that the notion of cognitive advantage allows us to better account for the profile of idea propagation within real-world communities. It therefore provides an important step towards the development of more ecologically-realistic models of group-level cognitive dynamics.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 4 July 2010
Additional Information: Event Dates: 22nd September 2009
Venue - Dates: 1st ITA Workshop on Network-Enabled Cognition: The Contribution of Social and Technological Networks to Human Cognition, United States, 2009-09-22
Keywords: idea propagation, cultural groups, cultural network analysis, cultural models, cultural modelling, social networks, diffusion of innovations, memetics, cultural epidemiology, cultural transmission, military coalitions, cognitive advantage, belief propagation, network-enabled cognition, network science, communication networks, cultural analysis
Organisations: Web & Internet Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 268372
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/268372
PURE UUID: 245c966f-ab0c-4879-913a-1bd48d6d8df6
ORCID for Paul Smart: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9989-5307

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Jul 2010 12:35
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 12:46

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