Social persuasion in online and physical networks

Vivek K. Singh, Ankur Mani, Alex Pentland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Social persuasion to influence the actions, beliefs, and behaviors of individuals, embedded in a social network, has been widely studied. It has been applied to marketing, healthcare, sustainability, political campaigns, and public policy. Traditionally, there has been a separation between physical (offline) and cyber (online) worlds. While persuasion methods in the physical world focused on strong interpersonal trust and design principles, persuasion methods in the online world were rich on data-driven analysis and algorithms. Recent trends including Internet of Things, 'big data,' and smartphone adoption point to the blurring divide between the cyber world and the physical world in the following ways. Fine grained data about each individual's location, situation, social ties, and actions are collected and merged from different sources. The messages for persuasion can be transmitted through both worlds at suitable times and places. The impact of persuasion on each individual is measurable. Hence, we posit that the social persuasion will soon be able to span seamlessly across these worlds and will be able to employ computationally and empirically rigorous methods to understand and intervene in both cyber and physical worlds. Several early examples indicate that this will impact the fundamental facets of persuasion including who, how, where, and when, and pave way for multiple opportunities as well as research challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6949053
Pages (from-to)1903-1910
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number12
StatePublished - Aug 9 2015

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  • Cyber-physical social networks
  • networked intervention
  • persuasive computing
  • social persuasion


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