Social Science Computer Review

Volume 31, No 6

November, 2013


Title   / Authors

A meta-analysis of state-of-the-art electoral prediction from Twitter data / Daniel Gayo-Avello

Abstract: Electoral prediction from Twitter data is an appealing research topic. It seems relatively straightforward and the prevailing view is overly optimistic. This is problematic because while simple approaches are assumed to be good enough, core problems are not addressed. Thus, this paper aims to (1) provide a balanced and critical review of the state of the art; (2) cast light on the presume predictive power of Twitter data; and (3) propose some considerations to push forward the field. Hence, a scheme to characterize Twitter prediction methods is proposed. It covers every aspect from data collection to performance evaluation, through data processing and vote inference. Using that scheme, prior research is analyzed and organized to explain the main approaches taken up to date but also their weaknesses. This is the first meta-analysis of the whole body of research regarding electoral prediction from Twitter data. It reveals that its presumed predictive power regarding electoral prediction has been somewhat exaggerated: social media may provide a glimpse on electoral outcomes but, up to now, research has not provided strong evidence to support it can currently replace traditional polls. Nevertheless, there are some reasons for optimism and, hence, further work on this topic is required, along with tighter integration with traditional electoral forecasting research.


Offline Status, Online Status: Reproduction of Social Categories in Personal Information Skill and Knowledge / Yong Jin Park

Abstract: This study tested the reproduction hypothesis that the Internet produces positive payoffs for those in privileged social positions, while disfavoring marginalized communities. Using a national sample of adult Internet users (n = 419), the first premise of this study investigated the impacts of (1) socio-demographic status, (2) Internet access indicators, and (3) their interactions on the variations of capabilities, as assessed through discrete measures of Internet-related personal information skill and knowledge. The second premise introduced the factor of individual motivation in interaction with socio-demographics and Internet access indicators. Hierarchical logistic regressions showed manifest age and gender disparities, with the significant interactions indicating that Internet access exacerbates existing offline status disparities. The reinforcement of digital divide was particularly salient in knowledge dimensions. The findings are discussed with regard to the conditions that incubate systematic differences in people’s ability to understand or resist data surveillance. Implications for policy initiatives are offered. 


An Interpersonal Relationship Framework for Virtual Community Participation Psychology: From Covert to Overt Process / Honglei Li & Kun Chang Lee

 Abstract: Understanding virtual community (hereinafter as VC) participation is of importance to VC organizers as well as VC researchers. Although VC participation has been explored from diverse perspectives, few studies can offer a comprehensive theoretical framework to explain why people participate in VCs. This paper contributes to virtual community research by proposing and empirically validating an exploratory theoretical framework from the interpersonal relationship perspective using two interpersonal relationship theories—the Triandis interpersonal behavior model from social psychological angle and FIRO (Fundamental Interpersonal Relationship Orientation) from communicational angle  to explain two types of VC participation—BOI (Behavior to Obtain Information) and BGI (Behavior to Give Information). Data was collected in three representative VCs. Data analysis results showed that the two interpersonal relationship theories are effective in explaining VC participation. This paper contributes to the existing body of knowledge on virtual communities by providing an integrative interpersonal relationship framework to explain VC participation, i.e., members participate in VCs to satisfy their interpersonal relationship needs at three level—inclusion, control, and affect through the dynamic interpersonal process expressed as covert to overt psychological process.


Data Quality in PC and Mobile Web Surveys / Aigul Mavletova

Abstract: The considerable growth in the number of smart mobile devices with a fast Internet connection provides new challenges for survey researchers. In this paper, I compare the data quality between two survey modes: self-administered Web surveys conducted via PC and those conducted via mobile phones. Data quality is compared based on five indicators: (a) completion rates, (b) response order effects, (c) social desirability, (d) non-substantive responses, and (e) length of open answers. I hypothesized that mobile Web surveys would result in lower completion rates, stronger response order effects, and less elaborate answers to open-ended questions. No difference was expected in the level of reporting in sensitive items and in the rate of non-substantive responses. To test the assumptions, an experiment with two survey modes was conducted using a volunteer online access panel in Russia. As expected, mobile Web was associated with a lower completion rate, shorter length of open answers, and similar level of socially undesirable and non-substantive responses. However, no stronger primacy effects in mobile Web survey mode were found.


Where am I?: A Meta-Analysis of Experiments on the Effects of Progress Indicators for Web Surveys / Mario Callegaro, Ana Villar, & Yongwei Yang

Abstract: The use of progress indicators seems to be standard in many online surveys. Researchers include them in surveys in the hope they will help reduce drop-off rates. However, there is no consensus in the literature regarding their effect. In this meta-analysis, we analyzed 32 randomized experi-ments comparing drop-off rates of an experimental group who completed an online survey in which a progress indicator was shown, to drop-off rates of a control group to whom the progress indicator was not shown. In all the studies, a drop-off was defined as a discontinuance of the survey (at any point) after it has begun, resulting in failure to complete the survey. Three types of progress indicators were analyzed: constant, fast-to-slow, and slow-to-fast. Our results show that, overall, using a constant progress indicator does not significantly help reduce drop-offs, and that effectiveness of the progress indicator varies depending on the speed of indicator: fast-to-slow indicators reduced drop-offs, whereas slow-to-fast indicators increased drop-offs. We also found that among the studies in which a small incentive was promised, showing a constant pro-gress indicator increased the drop-off rate. These findings question the common belief that pro-gress indicators help reduce drop-off rates.


Reports and Communications

Facebook Use and Political Participation: The Impact of Exposure to Shared Political Information, Connections with Public Political Actors, and Network Structural Heterogeneity / Gary Tang and Francis L. F. Lee

Abstract: Some recent studies have illustrated a positive relationship between social media use and political participation among young people. Researchers, however, have operationalized social media usage differently. This article adopts a multi-dimensional approach to the study of the impact of social media. Focusing on Facebook, the most widely utilized social networking site in Hong Kong, this study examines how time spent on Facebook, exposure to shared political information, network size, network structural heterogeneity, and direct connection with public political actors relate to young people’s online and offline political participation. Analysis of a survey of university students (N=774) shows that participation is explained most prominently by direct connection with public political actors, followed by exposure to shared political information. These two variables also mediate the impact of other dimensions of Facebook use on political participation.  


Software Review

Review of QDA Miner / Chantell LaPan