Network structure impacts the synchronization of collective beliefs

Madalina Vlasceanu, Michael J. Morais, Alin Coman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People's beliefs are influenced by interactions within their communities. The propagation of this influence through conversational social networks should impact the degree to which community members synchronize their beliefs. To investigate, we recruited a sample of 140 participants and constructed fourteen 10-member communities. Participants first rated the accuracy of a set of statements (pre-test) and were then provided with relevant evidence about them. Then, participants discussed the statements in a series of conversational interactions, following pre-determined network structures (clustered/non-clustered). Finally, they rated the accuracy of the statements again (post-test). The results show that belief synchronization, measuring the increase in belief similarity among individuals within a community from pre-test to post-test, is influenced by the community's conversational network structure. This synchronization is circumscribed by a degree of separation effect and is equivalent in the clustered and non-clustered networks. We also find that conversational content predicts belief change from pre-test to post-test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-448
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Cognition and Culture
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021


  • Belief change
  • Collective beliefs
  • Misinformation
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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