Does your opinion change based on the tweets you read? A new academic study shows that opinions are formed very quickly by the Twitter hivemind, and once formed, they’re difficult to change.
The study examined over 6 million tweets from December 2010 to June 2011 from just under 2.5 million user profiles.
The researchers explain that, while Twitter might not be the perfect medium to track the process of opinion development in an individual, it works well for overall trends:
“User’s posts do not always track the real evolution process of user’s opinions because a user may not publish posts all the time, and the active users that create posts frequently only comprise a small proportion of the population. Even so, we can also analyze the total posts belonging to a certain topic to investigate the dynamic trend of public opinion on Twitter.”
For the purposes of this study, researchers tracked public opinion about three popular pieces of consumer technology: the iPhone 4, Blackberry and iPad 2.
They found that the two Apple products were quickly deemed to be the crowd favorite on Twitter, and that this opinion was formed thanks in part to the influential opinions of individuals and groups.
Once formed, it appears as though opinions don’t publicly change on Twitter. Rather, users take to 140 characters to try and sway others to their point of view.