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Concept: Network science


The interplay between individuals forms building blocks for social structure. Here, we examine the structure of behavioral interactions among kindergarten classroom with a hierarchy-neutral approach to examine all possible underlying patterns in the formation of layered networks of “reciprocal” interactions. To understand how these layers are coordinated, we used a layered motif approach. Our dual layered motif analysis can therefore be thought of as the dynamics of smaller groups that tile to create the group structure, or alternatively they provide information on what the average child would do in a given local social environment. When we examine the regulated motifs in layered networks, we find that transitivity is at least partially involved in the formation of these layered network structures. We also found complex combinations of the expected reciprocal interactions. The mechanisms used to understand social networks of kindergarten children here are also applicable on a more general scale to any group of individuals where interactions and identities can be readily observed and scored.

Concepts: Sociology, Networks, Social network, Network theory, Network science, Complex network, Kindergarten, Social structure


Benford’s Law states that, in naturally occurring systems, the frequency of numbers' first digits is not evenly distributed. Numbers beginning with a 1 occur roughly 30% of the time, and are six times more common than numbers beginning with a 9. We show that Benford’s Law applies to social and behavioral features of users in online social networks. Using social data from five major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, and LiveJournal), we show that the distribution of first significant digits of friend and follower counts for users in these systems follow Benford’s Law. The same is true for the number of posts users make. We extend this to egocentric networks, showing that friend counts among the people in an individual’s social network also follows the expected distribution. We discuss how this can be used to detect suspicious or fraudulent activity online and to validate datasets.

Concepts: Sociology, Networks, Network theory, Network science, Social network service, MySpace, Social network aggregation, Facebook


Understanding why animal societies take on the form that they do has benefited from insights gained by applying social network analysis to patterns of individual associations. Such analyses typically aggregate data over long time periods even though most selective forces that shape sociality have strong temporal elements. By explicitly incorporating the temporal signal in social interaction data we re-examine the network dynamics of the social systems of the evolutionarily closely-related Grevy’s zebras and wild asses that show broadly similar social organizations. By identifying dynamic communities, previously hidden differences emerge: Grevy’s zebras show more modularity than wild asses and in wild asses most communities consist of solitary individuals; and in Grevy’s zebras, lactating females show a greater propensity to switch communities than non-lactating females and males. Both patterns were missed by static network analyses and in general, adding a temporal dimension provides insights into differences associated with the size and persistence of communities as well as the frequency and synchrony of their formation. Dynamic network analysis provides insights into the functional significance of these social differences and highlights the way dynamic community analysis can be applied to other species.

Concepts: Sociology, Social network, Network theory, Network science, Equus, Donkey, Zebra, Dynamic network analysis


Despite the well-documented benefits of working in teams, teamwork also results in communication, coordination and management costs, and may lead to personal conflict between team members. In a context where teams play an increasingly important role, it is of major importance to understand conflict and to develop diagnostic tools to avert it. Here, we investigate empirically whether it is possible to quantitatively predict future conflict in small teams using parameter-free models of social network structure. We analyze data of conflict appearance and resolution between 86 team members in 16 small teams, all working in a real project for nine consecutive months. We find that group-based models of complex networks successfully anticipate conflict in small teams whereas micro-based models of structural balance, which have been traditionally used to model conflict, do not.

Concepts: Scientific method, Prediction, Futurology, Sociology, Social network, Team, Network theory, Network science


The problem of link prediction has recently received increasing attention from scholars in network science. In social network analysis, one of its aims is to recover missing links, namely connections among actors which are likely to exist but have not been reported because data are incomplete or subject to various types of uncertainty. In the field of criminal investigations, problems of incomplete information are encountered almost by definition, given the obvious anti-detection strategies set up by criminals and the limited investigative resources. In this paper, we work on a specific dataset obtained from a real investigation, and we propose a strategy to identify missing links in a criminal network on the basis of the topological analysis of the links classified as marginal, i.e. removed during the investigation procedure. The main assumption is that missing links should have opposite features with respect to marginal ones. Measures of node similarity turn out to provide the best characterization in this sense. The inspection of the judicial source documents confirms that the predicted links, in most instances, do relate actors with large likelihood of co-participation in illicit activities.

Concepts: Scientific method, Sociology, Networks, Social network, Network theory, Network science, Complex network, Criminal investigation


Information and behaviour can spread through interpersonal ties. By targeting influential individuals, health interventions that harness the distributive properties of social networks could be made more effective and efficient than those that do not. Our aim was to assess which targeting methods produce the greatest cascades or spillover effects and hence maximise population-level behaviour change.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Effectiveness, Sociology, Networks, Social network, Network theory, Network science, Mathematical sociology


Physical activity in children is associated with better physical and mental health but many children do not meet physical activity guidelines. Friendship groups are potentially an important influence on children’s physical activity and sedentary time. This paper examines the association between children of physical activity and sedentary time in school-based same-sex friendship networks, for both moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary time. Moreover, considering the methodological challenges of conducting and interpreting these analyses, we provide examples of how to analyse these data and interpret results to encourage further work in the area.

Concepts: Sociology, Networks, Social network, Network theory, Network science


One of the most important problems in complex network’s theory is the location of the entities that are essential or have a main role within the network. For this purpose, the use of dissimilarity measures (specific to theory of classification and data mining) to enrich the centrality measures in complex networks is proposed. The centrality method used is the eigencentrality which is based on the heuristic that the centrality of a node depends on how central are the nodes in the immediate neighbourhood (like rich get richer phenomenon). This can be described by an eigenvalues problem, however the information of the neighbourhood and the connections between neighbours is not taken in account, neglecting their relevance when is one evaluates the centrality/importance/influence of a node. The contribution calculated by the dissimilarity measure is parameter independent, making the proposed method is also parameter independent. Finally, we perform a comparative study of our method versus other methods reported in the literature, obtaining more accurate and less expensive computational results in most cases.

Concepts: The Network, Problem solving, Networks, Social network, Network theory, Network science, Complex network, The rich get richer and the poor get poorer


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:Parents decide whether their children are vaccinated, but they rarely reach these decisions on their own. Instead parents are influenced by their social networks, broadly defined as the people and sources they go to for information, direction, and advice. This study used social network analysis to formally examine parents' social networks (people networks and source networks) related to their vaccination decision-making. In addition to providing descriptions of typical networks of parents who conform to the recommended vaccination schedule (conformers) and those who do not (nonconformers), this study also quantified the effect of network variables on parents' vaccination choices.METHODS:This study took place in King County, Washington. Participation was limited to US-born, first-time parents with children aged ≤18 months. Data were collected via an online survey. Logistic regression was used to analyze the resulting data.RESULTS:One hundred twenty-six conformers and 70 nonconformers completed the survey. Although people networks were reported by 95% of parents in both groups, nonconformers were significantly more likely to report source networks (100% vs 80%, P < .001). Model comparisons of parent, people, and source network characteristics indicated that people network variables were better predictors of parents' vaccination choices than parents' own characteristics or the characteristics of their source networks. In fact, the variable most predictive of parents' vaccination decisions was the percent of parents' people networks recommending nonconformity.CONCLUSIONS:These results strongly suggest that social networks, and particularly parents' people networks, play an important role in parents' vaccination decision-making.

Concepts: Vaccination, Vaccination schedule, Sociology, Networks, Social network, Network theory, Network science, Complex network


During wildlife tourism, proximity or actual contact between people and animals may lead to a significant risk of anthropozoonotic disease transmission. In this paper, we use social network analysis, disease simulation modelling and data on animal health and behaviour to investigate such risks at a site in Morocco, where tourists come to see wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus). Measures of individual macaques' network centrality-an index of the strength and distribution of their social relationships and thus potentially their ability to spread disease-did not show clear and consistent relationships with their time spent in close proximity to, or rate of interacting with, tourists. Disease simulation modelling indicated that while higher-ranked animals had a significantly greater ability to spread disease within the group, in absolute terms there was little difference in the size of outbreaks that different individuals were predicted to cause. We observed a high rate of physical contact and close proximity between humans and macaques, including during three periods when the macaques were coughing and sneezing heavily, highlighting the potential risk of disease transmission. We recommend that general disease prevention strategies, such as those aimed at reducing opportunities for contact between tourists and macaques, should be adopted.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Sociology, Social network, Network theory, Network science, Wildlife, Tourism, Barbary Macaque