Game Theory vs. Exposure

While looking around for something to spark my interest for this week’s blog post, I came across an article that seemed to connect graph theory and game theory pretty well. The article discusses how and why certain things, such as memes or websites like Reddit can go viral. As opposed to the previously thought theory that going viral has to do with overall exposure, this article argues that trends go much deeper and can actually be connected to game theory.

Through a research study, it was found that people were far more likely to do something, whether it be chose a certain cell phone provider, pass along a picture, or create a networking account, based mostly on their “neighbor’s” behavior. Simplified, a person will choose their best strategy in order to remain similar to those surrounding him/her. In other words, people in this game are working towards an equilibrium in which a person is not out of the loop, so to speak. While this seems fairly intuitive, it can lead to a lack of change in a group which is the cause of certain information going viral. During the same study, the conductors changed the dynamic a bit by leaving certain people with incomplete information about what was happening. This led to tighter knit circles “turned into roadblocks because even without perfect information on its neighbors’ outlook, the highly connected nodes get more external pressure from their unenlightened neighbors” while nodes/people with less integrated connections were able to spread information quicker.

I found this article to be interesting in that it showed how game theory does not only apply to best strategy decisions in a purely economic or evolutionary framework, but a social one as well.