Our paper “Social influence and informational independence” will be presented as a poster at the CogSci 2020 conference. A preprint of the paper is available at https://osf.io/9pmqy/

Abstract: We frequently use social information when making decisions. For instance, other people may know more about a problem than we do, so we might update our initial beliefs in light of their opinions. The epistemic value of these social cues depends in part on their informational independence. People should thus be sensitive to nonindependence in their weighting of social information. However, the current literature yields conflicting results. In one recent study, participants valued social information less when it was nonindependent; in another, participants were insensitive to nonindependence. We identify possible causes of this inconsistency, and present an experimental paradigm that aims to fill these gaps. Then, in a study (N=200) with pre-registered hypotheses and analyses, we find that participants were not sensitive to cue dependence. We highlight the relevance of this finding for the modern media context, where nonindependence of both traditional and social media sources can lead to the spread of bias or false belief.