Predicting online participation through Bayesian network analysis

Elizaveta Kopacheva, Sergi Lozano
2021 PLoS ONE  
Despite the fact that preconditions of political participation were thoroughly examined before, there is still not enough understanding of which factors directly affect political participation and which factors correlate with participation due to common background variables. This article scrutinises the causal relations between the variables associated with participation in online activism and introduces a three-step approach in learning a reliable structure of the participation preconditions'
more » ... etwork to predict political participation. Using Bayesian network analysis and structural equation modeling to stabilise the structure of the causal relations, the analysis showed that only age, political interest, internal political efficacy and no other factors, highlighted by the previous political participation research, have direct effects on participation in online activism. Moreover, the direct effect of political interest is mediated by the indirect effects of internal political efficacy and age via political interest. After fitting the parameters of the Bayesian network dependent on the received structure, it became evident that given prior knowledge of the explanatory factors that proved to be most important in terms of direct effects, the predictive performance of the model increases significantly. Despite this fact, there is still uncertainty when it comes to predicting online participation. This result suggests that there remains a lot to be done in participation research when it comes to identifying and distinguishing factors that stimulate new types of political activities.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0261663 pmid:34941953 pmcid:PMC8699968 fatcat:ljias6rjyjh27hozdjenjdmkde