Social Science Studies and Experiments with Web Applications

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för datavetenskap och medieteknik (DM)

Abstract: This thesis explores a web-based method to do studies in cultural evolution. Cumulative cultural evolution (CCE) is defined as social learning that allows for the accumulation of changes over time where successful modifications are maintained until additional change is introduced. In the past few decades, many interdisciplinary studies were conducted on cultural evolution. However, until recently most of those studies were limited to lab experiments. This thesis aims to address the limitations of the experimental methods by replicating a lab-based experiment online. A web-based application was developed and used for replicating an experiment on conformity by Solomon Asch [1951]. The developed application engages participants in an optical illusion test within different groups of social influence. The major finding of the study reveals that conformity increases on trials with higher social influence. In addition, it was also found that when the task becomes more difficult, the subject's conformity increases. These findings were also reported in the original experiment. The results of the study showed that lab-based experiments in cultural evolution studies can be replicated over the web with quantitatively similar results.

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