Social Influences on Political Information Search and Evaluation
In this paper, we consider whether simple social signals of affect influence the information search strategies and political judgments of subjects during a voting task. We randomly assigned participants to either a neutral information environment or one in which the items also indicated how many other people “liked” or “disliked” the information. We find that social cues do in fact condition the search behavior of participants; subjects in social environments engaged in different patterns of search and focused on different types of information than did subjects in the control group. However, these changes in search strategy had no effect on evaluation of the candidates or their policies.