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How Close Are You Really?

How Close Are You Really? by Emerging Technology from the arXiv (MIT Technology Review)
A diagram of your social network reveals the strength of your individual relationships, network scientists say.
Research contextualized in the MIT Technology Review:

Social scientists measure the strength of these links using a variety of indicators, such as how often a person calls another, whether that call is reciprocated, the time the two people spend speaking, and so on. But these indicators are often difficult and time-consuming to measure. 

 

The team found that the number of friends that pairs of individual have in common is strongly correlated with the strength of the tie between them, as measured in other ways. That’s regardless of whether people are linked by mobile-phone records or by social ties in rural Indian villages.

 

The first comes from Elizabeth Bott, an influential anthropologist who published a book in 1957 called Family and Social Networks. In this book, she hypothesized that the degree of clustering in an individual’s network could draw the person away from a tie with somebody else. In other words, if you are part of a group of close friends or relations, you are less able to make strong links outside this group.

 

The second comes from Mark Granovetter, an American sociologist who in 1969 wrote a hugely influential paper called “The Strength of Weak Ties.” In this paper, he suggested that the stronger the tie between any two people, the higher the fraction of friends they have in common.

 

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