Sociology

I Liked You From the Start

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Science  03 Feb 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6068, pp. 504
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6068.504-b

There is a tendency for people involved in a particular social network to be similar, but separating cause and effect can be difficult. To study the evolution of networks and behavior simultaneously, Lewis et al. used Facebook entries written by more than 1500 college students at a U.S. college over a 4-year period. From the time the students were freshmen until their senior year, network and profile information (including “friends” listings and taste in music, books, and movies) was tabulated. Students who liked certain kinds of movies (such as dark satire) or certain kinds of music (such as lite/classic rock) tended, more frequently than chance, to find others with similar tastes at the start. With the exception of a liking for classical/jazz music, preferences did not seem to be contagious. Although the authors acknowledge limitations of their study set, they conclude that ties strengthen among similar people, and our likes and dislikes do not tend to “rub off” on those around us.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109, 68 (2012).

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