Influence via Ethos: On the Persuasive Power of Reputation in Deliberation Online [article]

Emaad Manzoor, George H. Chen, Dokyun Lee, Michael D. Smith
2020 arXiv   pre-print
Deliberation among individuals online plays a key role in shaping the opinions that drive votes, purchases, donations and other critical offline behavior. Yet, the determinants of opinion-change via persuasion in deliberation online remain largely unexplored. Our research examines the persuasive power of ethos– an individual's "reputation" – using a 7-year panel of over a million debates from an argumentation platform containing explicit indicators of successful persuasion. We identify the
more » ... l effect of reputation on persuasion by constructing an instrument for reputation from a measure of past debate competition, and by controlling for unstructured argument text using neural models of language in the double machine-learning framework. We find that an individual's reputation significantly impacts their persuasion rate above and beyond the validity, strength and presentation of their arguments. In our setting, we find that having 10 additional reputation points causes a 31 the platform average. We also find that the impact of reputation is moderated by characteristics of the argument content, in a manner consistent with a theoretical model that attributes the persuasive power of reputation to heuristic information-processing under cognitive overload. We discuss managerial implications for platforms that facilitate deliberative decision-making for public and private organizations online.
arXiv:2006.00707v1 fatcat:ibrftnslh5ckvjpmxhsuoejq3q