WASHINGTON - Being loud and confident is the best way to win any argument - even if you're wrong!
Researchers from Washington State University reached this conclusion after studying the activity of Twitter users. The more opinionated people were, the more influential and trustworthy they were perceived.
Researched analyzed more than a billion tweets posted during several American sporting events, including the 2013 Super Bowl, to figure out whether being accurate or being confident made Twitter users more popular and influential.
Despite professional pundits and regular fans making the same amount of correct and incorrect statements, the tweeters who 'yelled' louder were seen as more trustworthy, and even had more followers.
To test this theory, two economic students, Jadrien Wooten and Ben Smith, compared the tweets of pundits and celebs, with those of amateur tweeters that claimed to have sports knowledge in their biography. The pair then developed a new software program that sorts through more than a billion tweets looking for predictions for sporting events, such as the Super Bowl.
The research concluded that the professionals were correct only 47% of the time, whereas the amateurs were accurate 45% of the time.
However, the professionals were more confident, scoring a .480 confidence rating compared to the amateurs' .313.
If a professional pundit accurately predicted every game of the baseball playoffs and series, the authors estimated his or her Twitter following would increase 3.4%.
While an amateur would get 7.3% more followers. A confident professional would increase his or her following by nearly 17%, whereas a 'loud' amateur would get 20% more followers.
They claim this shows that people are more likely to trust 'loud' amateurs, despite their lack of authority on the subject, than 'loud' professional pundits.
Wooten said: "In a perfect world, you want to be accurate and confident. But if you had to pick, being confident will get you more followers, get you more demand. They're trading away some of their accuracy. I might not be right all the time but I can yell louder than this other guy."
Smith added: 'There is some psychological literature on the idea that people hate uncertainty. The fact that people don't like uncertainty would suggest that they don't like the idea of a person standing up there and saying, 'I'm only 90 percent sure.'"
Wooten concluded: "I like to think of it like a roulette wheel. If you have somebody just placing bets, that person is kind of boring. But if you have someone going, 'Oh, yeah! It's red!' and they are confident, that's the person that you are interested in."
The authors presented these findings earlier this year at the 50th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Economics and Finance.
---Jadrien Wooten and Ben Smith conducted the study on yelling
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