Studying the effect of similarity in online task-focused interactions

Dan Cosley, Pamela Ludford, Loren G Terveen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Although the Internet provides powerful tools for social interactions, many tasks - for example, information-seeking - are undertaken as solitary activities. Information seekers are unaware of the invisible crowd traveling in parallel to their course through the information landscape. Social navigation systems attempt to make the invisible crowd visible, while social recommender systems try to introduce people directly. However, it is not clear whether users desire or will respond to social cues indicating the presence of other people when they are focused on a task. To investigate this issue, we created an online game-playing task and paired subjects to perform the task based on their responses to a short survey about demographics and interests. We studied how these factors influence task outcomes, the interaction process, and attitudes towards one's partner. We found that demographic similarity affected how people interact with each other, even though this information was not explicit, while similarities or differences in task-relevant interests did not. Our findings suggest guidelines for developing social recommender systems and show the need for further research into conditions that will help such systems succeed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2003
EventGROUP'03: Proceedings of the 2003 International ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group Work - Sanibel Island, FL, United States
Duration: Nov 9 2003Nov 12 2003


OtherGROUP'03: Proceedings of the 2003 International ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group Work
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySanibel Island, FL


  • Community
  • Demographics
  • Friendship
  • Matchmaking
  • Recommender systems
  • Similarity
  • Social navigation


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