Social Science Computer Review

Volume 32, No 4

August, 2014


Title   / Authors

A simulation of rule-breaking behavior in public places / Takuhiko Deguchi

Abstract: A computer simulation based on both game theory and the cellular automaton model was conducted to investigate the effects of individuals’ interactions and certain conditions on the spread of rule-breaking behavior in public places. Four decision matrices representing obedient, deviant, conforming, and contrary principles were prepared experimentally. The ratio of these principles ranged from 1:2:3:4 to 4:3:2:1 (obedient:deviant:conforming:contrary). There were a total of 24 data sets with each data set composed of 10 decision matrices. In addition to these 24 data sets, the ratio 1:1:1:1 was prepared. This data set was composed of four decision matrices. The results indicated that rule-breaking behavior spreads under the following conditions: A) when people act according to both individual factors (e.g., their attitudes) and situational factors (e.g., their neighbors’ behavior); B) when there are more deviant people than obedient people; C) when the intensity of rule-breaking behavior is higher than that of rule-obeying behavior. Condition A is an important factor. If conditions B or C are satisfied, the spread of rule-breaking behavior does not occur necessarily. At a certain probability threshold, rule-breaking behavior spreads sharply when people act based on individual factors (e.g., their attitudes); the spread of such behavior cannot be attributed solely to situational factors (e.g., neighbors’ behavioral actions). There is only a fine line between rule-breaking and obeying near the probability threshold.

How ethnic exclusion influences rebellion and leader survival: A simulation approach / Hyun-Jin Choi

 Abstract: This study extends selectorate theory (Bueno de Mesquita et al., 2003) in the form of an agent-based model to explore how the leader’s ethnic policy―ethnic exclusion or inclusion―influences the risk of rebellion and leader survival in different sizes of the minimum winning coalition. The theoretical simulation shows that when the minimum winning coalition is small: (1) highly exclusive leaders not only survive longer in power, but also face a lower risk of violent removal from office than moderately exclusive leaders; (2) leaders who pursue an inclusive ethnic policy are more likely to be overthrown by disaffected members of the ruling coalition; and (3) there is an inverted U-shaped relationship between the level of ethnic exclusion and the risk of rebellion, with the greatest risk of rebellion among semi-exclusive regimes. These findings indicate that an exclusive ethnic policy provides political benefits to non-democratic leaders even if it motivates excluded groups to rebel.

Desire thinking as a predictor of problematic Internet use / Marcantonio M. Spada, Gabriele Caselli, Manuel Slaifer, Ana V. Nikčević, & Sandra Sassaroli

Abstract: This study investigated the role of desire thinking in predicting problematic Internet use independently of weekly Internet use, anxiety, depression and craving for Internet use. A sample of 250 Internet users completed the following self-report instruments: Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Internet Use Craving Scale, Desire Thinking Questionnaire, and Internet Addiction Test. The sample was then divided into two sub-groups: problematic Internet users (n=90) and non-problematic Internet users (n=140). Mann-Whitney U tests revealed that all variable scores were significantly higher for problematic Internet users than non-problematic Internet users. A logistic regression analysis indicated that imaginal prefiguration was a predictor of classification as problematic Internet user over and above weekly Internet use, anxiety, depression and craving for Internet use. A hierarchical regression analysis, on the combined sample, indicated that both verbal perseveration and imaginal prefiguration predicted problematic Internet use independently of weekly Internet use, anxiety, depression and craving for Internet use. These results add to the argument that the construct of desire thinking is relevant in understanding of addictive behaviours including problematic Internet use.

Internet addiction and its relationship to chronotype and personality in a Turkish university student sample / Christoph Randler, Mehmet Barış Horzum, & Christian Vollmer

Abstract: This study sought to investigate whether internet addiction is associated with age, gender, BIG-5 personality and chronotype in a Turkish university student sample. Six hundred and sixteen students filled out a set of questionnaires. We here report – to our knowledge for the first time – an association between internet addiction and chronotype. Evening types and males had higher internet addiction scores than others. Furthermore, agreeable and conscientious students reported lower internet addiction. No consistent relationship was observed between students’ internet addiction scores and openness to experience, extraversion and emotional stability. We conclude that evening types may be more prone to internet addiction than morning oriented persons because eveningness is related to personality styles that foster internet addiction.


The impact of social media on the political interests of the youth in Lebanon at the wake of the Arab Spring / Bassem E. Maamari and Hala El Zein

Abstract: Across the world, youth are embracing the concepts of freedom of speech, right to opinion, and modern information technology in all its aspects, and are trying to find use for it. The Arab Spring revolutions that began in 2011 and which are still ablaze reflect this fact.  Lebanon is the most democratic country in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.  The youth of Lebanon are adept users of web-based communication tools but are they eager to use this technology to connect with their political leaders? The results of this study show significant interest of youth in e-based communication with politicians. However, this interest may not be translated into material voting at the polls.


Social ties and generalized trust, online and in person: Contact or conflict - the mediating role of bonding social capital in America / Brandon Bouchillon 

Abstract: Results of the present survey (n = 888) suggest that having strong social ties (or bonding social capital) fosters generalized trust, in support of conflict theory. There was no link between bridging social capital, or one’s more diverse ties, and trust. Facebook use was found to have an indirect but positive influence on trust through levels of bonding social capital. Civic engagement was also positively related to trust through the same measure of bonding social capital, allowing like-minded members of civic groups to connect, which spills over to trust. Neither Facebook use nor civic engagement directly influenced generalized trust. This study suggests the viability of both physical (civic) and digital (Facebook) modes of reengaging trust in an ever-diversifying society. The “virtuous circle,” in which social trust and civic engagement prop one another up in a reciprocal fashion, instead looks like a figure 8 here. Each measure indirectly boosted the other by first growing both bonding social capital. When considered alongside divergent findings from Canada, this appears to be an American response to the increasing size of racial minority groups. Hispanic citizens make up the same portion of the American population as do all minority groups in Canada combined. These findings represent a White reaction to an increasing Hispanic presence in America. Bounded solidarity in the form of strong, homogenous ties is shown as the path to trust in these settings.

Reports and Communications

Cognitive Probes in Web Surveys: On the Effect of Different Text Box Size and Probing Exposure on Response Quality / Dorothée Behr, Wolfgang Bandilla, Lars Kaczmirek, Michael Braun

Abstract: In this study, we explore to what extent the visual presentation of open-ended probes, in connection with different prior probing exposure, impacts on response quality. We experiment with two text box sizes for a specific immigrant probe (“Which type of immigrants were you thinking of when you answered the question?”). On the one hand, we use a standard size equal to the other text box sizes in the survey but oversized for the specific response task. On the other hand, we use a smaller text box which fits the response task. The other probes in the survey that use the standard text box are mainly category-selection probes which ask for a reasoning for the chosen answer value. Due to randomized rotation of questions, respondents receive different numbers of category-selection probes prior to the immigrant probe, resulting in different degrees of exposure to category-selection probing prior to the immigrant probe. For the immigrant probe, we find that respondents who receive the standard text box and who have had a high exposure to category-selection probing are more likely to provide mismatching answers: The mismatch consists of not answering the specific immigrant probe but rather providing a reasoning answer as typically expected for a category-selection probe. Thus, previous experience with probing in the questionnaire can override the actual probe wording. This problem can be minimized by considering possible carry-over effects of prior probes and using an appropriate survey design strategy.

On Empirical Validation of Compactness Measures for Electoral Redistricting and Its Significance for Application of Models in the Social Sciences / Christine Chou, Steven O. Kimbrough, Frederic H. Murphy, John Sullivan-Fedock, & C. . Jason Woodard

Abstract: Use of optimization models in science and policy applications is often problematic because the best available models are very inaccurate representations of the originating problems. Such is the case with electoral districting models, for which there exist no generally accepted measures of compactness, in spite of many proposals and much analytical study. This paper reports on an experimental investigation of subjective judgments of compactness for electoral districts. The experiment draws on a unique database of 116 distinct, legally valid districting plans for the Philadelphia City Council, discovered with evolutionary computation. Subjects in the experiment displayed, in the aggregate, remarkable agreement with several standard measures of compactness, thus providing warrant for use of these measures that has heretofore been unavailable. The exercise also lends support to the underlying methodology on display here, which proposes to use models based on subjective judgments in combination with algorithms that find multiple solutions in order to support application of optimization models in contexts in which they are only very approximate representations.

What happens if you offer a mobile option to your web panel? Evidence from a probability-based panel of Internet users / Vera Toepoel & Peter Lugtig

Abstract: This paper reports results from a pilot study that was conducted in a probability-based online panel in the Netherlands. Two parallel surveys were conducted: one in the traditional questionnaire layout of the panel and one optimized for mobile completion with new software that uses a responsive design (optimizes the layout for the device chosen). The latter questionnaire was optimized for mobile completion and respondents could choose whether they wanted to complete the survey on their mobile phone or on a regular desktop. Results show that a substantive number of respondents (57%) used their mobile phone for survey completion. No differences were found between mobile and desktop users with regard to break offs, item non-response, time to complete the survey, or response effects such as length of answers to an open-ended question and the number of responses in a check-all-that-apply question. A considerable number of respondents gave permission to record their GPS coordinates, which are helpful in defining where the survey was taken. Income, household size and household composition were found to predict mobile completion. In addition, younger respondents, which typically form a hard-to-reach group, show higher mobile completion rates.

Software Review

 T-Lab / Reviewed by Michela Cortini & Stefania Tria