We’ve all “got a guy” that helps us with certain things whether that thing might be a question about how to navigate the health care system or which laptop would be good to buy. We consider them experts in a particular field — a maven — and we go to them with our concerns and quandaries. But how do you test to find out whether someone is truly a maven?
BPS reports on a group of researchers that sought to build such a test. Franklin Boster and Christopher Carpenter write that they define these mavens as “highly expert in a domain … highly connected, and highly persuasive.” They recently penned a research paper where they presented two studies “testing the construct validity of the maven scale they developed.”
In the first study, they used a political version of the maven scale, asking a total of 131 students whether the strongly agreed to strongly disagreed with statements, such as, “When I know something about political issues, I feel it is important to share that information with others,” “The people I know often know each other because of me,” and “If someone asked me about a political issue that I was unsure of, I would know how to help them find the answer.” The scale helped measure their activeness in the political arena, inquiring as to participants’ voting, donation, and volunteer habits. The scale also provided some general items that could be applied to any category to figure out how connected and persuasive people thought they were.
The researchers said they “found that political mavens are more politically active and knowledgeable than those lower in political expertise.” But while these individuals may be knowledgeable, researchers wanted to find out if they were really influential, as the truth can often be skewed in self-evaluations.
In a second study, they asked 34 health professionals at a high school to take their maven test. Then each individual participant had to evaluate the other 33 on two things, answering a “yes” or “no” to the questions:
“This person comes to me for information on health and healthy lifestyle issues.”
“This person is a good source of information on health and healthy lifestyle issues.”
The researchers write that they “found that health mavens report both that others seek them for health information and that others report that they are good sources of health information.” This means that a maven generally has a trusted network of experts that they go to and go to them in turn.
A scale such as this could help companies pinpoint the right expert to market their products. What’s more, these same people could help guide a company toward new, bold, and innovative ideas for their company. In my years as a tech writer, I’ve see many companies snatch up analysts and editors from various publications to help the company innovate their brand and products.
Read more at BPS.
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