New research has shown that we notice popular people and don’t notice unpopular people. OK, so we probably didn’t need research to tell us that but Cameron Anderson and Aiwa Shirako were investigating how reputations form and Dave Munger at Cognitive Daily describe the results this way:
It turns out that your reputation for cooperativeness is only affected by your behavior if you’re already popular. If you’re not popular, it appears that no one takes notice of your behavior, so it has no impact on your reputation. People with lots of social connections can build a good reputation — or a bad one — with much more ease than people with few social connections.
So for those people doing social network analyses spotting all the connectors you should also be providing these hubs with a warning: it’s true you are in a great place to build your reputation but also equally good place to tear it apart.
Cameron Anderson, Aiwa Shirako (2008). Are individuals’ reputations related to their history of behavior? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94 (2), 320-333 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1680