Communication with similar people stronger than believed

Oct 23, 2013
Communication with similar people stronger than believed
The timings of the calls (red arrows) allow researchers to extract patterns of people's social behaviour from large amounts of data.

People's tendency to communicate with similar people is stronger than earlier believed, which restricts the flow of information and ideas in social networks. These are the findings that an Aalto University research group will publish this week in an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences publication series.

The results were obtained by means of a developed by the research group and then applied to massive amounts of anonymised call data. The data came from a 's billing system and includes detailed information about the timing of hundreds of millions of mobile phone calls and the age, gender and billing types of anonymised callers and recipients.

The research is linked to computational social science, an area of multidisciplinary research that has become highly important in recent years. In this area, computational methods are used to mine information about human behavior from massive data sets. Rather than focusing on the individual, computational social science strives to understand general properties in the behavior of large groups of people. This contrasts with data collection and mining used for intelligence purposes, which has recently attracted a lot of publicity. Furthermore, the used is always anonymised.

The research group's computational method is based on statistical analysis of the precise timing of phone calls. This allowed researchers to show that various patterns where immediately follow each other (for example, A calls B, who then calls C) are more common between people who are similar in terms of age, gender and mutual friends than could be observed based only on numbers of calls made.

Application of the developed method is not only limited to research on communication between people; it also has potential uses in areas like brain research.

Explore further: Personalized advertising attracts more attention, makes the contents of ads easier to remember

More information: Kovanen, L. et al. Temporal motifs reveal homophily, gender-specific patterns, and group talk in call sequences, PNAS, October 21, 2013. www.pnas.org/content/early/201… /1307941110.abstract

Related Stories

Phone call, SMS or perhaps a Whatsapp message?

Aug 29, 2013

Smartphone users' communication habits have been studied in a doctoral thesis at Aalto University. The users' choices are affected, e.g., by the strength of the relationship with the other party and the context in which the ...

Phone calls back evolutionary theories of gender

Apr 19, 2012

Women speak to their male partners less often as they grow older and turn their attention to a younger generation, according to an unusual study Thursday that tracked nearly two billion phone calls and text ...

Recommended for you

Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

Dec 18, 2014

Analysis of the results of a large-scale survey reveals the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and sheds light on the mental health of the country's teens.

Fewer lectures, more group work

Dec 18, 2014

Professor Cees van der Vleuten from Maastricht University is a Visiting Professor at Wits University who believes that learning should be student centred.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Egleton
not rated yet Oct 23, 2013
Go tell this to the Climate Change "debaters".

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.