social_influence   132

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[1810.03579] Long ties accelerate noisy threshold-based contagions
"Changes to network structure can substantially affect when and how widely new ideas, products, and conventions are adopted. In models of biological contagion, interventions that randomly rewire edges (making them "longer") accelerate spread. However, there are other models relevant to social contagion, such as those motivated by myopic best-response in games with strategic complements, in which individual's behavior is described by a threshold number of adopting neighbors above which adoption occurs (i.e., complex contagions). Recent work has argued that highly clustered, rather than random, networks facilitate spread of these complex contagions. Here we show that minor modifications of prior analyses, which make them more realistic, reverse this result. The modification is that we allow very rarely below threshold adoption, i.e., very rarely adoption occurs, where there is only one adopting neighbor. To model the trade-off between long and short edges we consider networks that are the union of cycle-power-k graphs and random graphs on n nodes. We study how the time to global spread changes as we replace the cycle edges with (random) long ties. Allowing adoptions below threshold to occur with order 1/n‾√ probability is enough to ensure that random rewiring accelerates spread. Simulations illustrate the robustness of these results to other commonly-posited models for noisy best-response behavior. We then examine empirical social networks, where we find that hypothetical interventions that (a) randomly rewire existing edges or (b) add random edges reduce time to spread compared with the original network or addition of "short", triad-closing edges, respectively. This substantially revises conclusions about how interventions change the spread of behavior, suggesting that those wanting to increase spread should induce formation of long ties, rather than triad-closing ties."
to:NB  networks  social_influence  re:do-institutions-evolve  eckles.dean  to_read 
3 days ago by cshalizi
[1809.10302] The hidden traits of endemic illiteracy in cities
"In spite of the considerable progress towards reducing illiteracy rates, many countries, including developed ones, have encountered difficulty achieving further reduction in these rates. This is worrying because illiteracy has been related to numerous health, social, and economic problems. Here, we show that the spatial patterns of illiteracy in urban systems have several features analogous to the spread of diseases such as dengue and obesity. Our results reveal that illiteracy rates are spatially long-range correlated, displaying non-trivial clustering structures characterized by percolation-like transitions and fractality. These patterns can be described in the context of percolation theory of long-range correlated systems at criticality. Together, these results provide evidence that the illiteracy incidence can be related to a transmissible process, in which the lack of access to minimal education propagates in a population in a similar fashion to endemic diseases."

--- Of course it's coming out in _Physica A_.
to:NB  sociology  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial  social_influence  re:homophily_and_confounding 
15 days ago by cshalizi
Estimating Group Effects Using Averages of Observables to Control for Sorting on Unobservables: School and Neighborhood Effects
"We consider the classic problem of estimating group treatment effects when individuals sort based on observed and unobserved characteristics. Using a standard choice model, we show that controlling for group averages of observed individual characteristics potentially absorbs all the across-group variation in unobservable individual characteristics. We use this insight to bound the treatment effect variance of school systems and associated neighborhoods for various outcomes. Across multiple datasets, we find that a 90th versus 10th percentile school/neighborhood increases the high school graduation probability and college enrollment probability by at least 0.04 and 0.11 and permanent wages by 13.7 percent."

--- This sounds bogus, or at least question-begging, to me. ("If you assume that unobserved characteristics can be perfectly tracked by observed characteristics, you don't need to worry about unobserved characteristics" --- not an actual quote.) The last tag applies.
to:NB  social_influence  causal_inference  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
18 days ago by cshalizi
Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports

Recruitment information with a link to a 90-question survey, consisting of multiple-choice, Likert-type and open-ended questions, was placed on three websites where parents had reported rapid onsets of gender dysphoria. Website moderators and potential participants were encouraged to share the recruitment information and link to the survey with any individuals or communities that they thought might include eligible participants to expand the reach of the project through snowball sampling techniques. Data were collected anonymously via SurveyMonkey. Quantitative findings are presented as frequencies, percentages, ranges, means and/or medians. Open-ended responses from two questions were targeted for qualitative analysis of themes.


There were 256 parent-completed surveys that met study criteria. The adolescent and young adult (AYA) children described were predominantly female sex at birth (82.8%) with a mean age of 16.4 years. Forty-one percent of the AYAs had expressed a non-heterosexual sexual orientation before identifying as transgender. Many (62.5%) of the AYAs had been diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder or neurodevelopmental disability prior to the onset of their gender dysphoria (range of the number of pre-existing diagnoses 0–7). In 36.8% of the friendship groups described, the majority of the members became transgender-identified. The most likely outcomes were that AYA mental well-being and parent-child relationships became worse since AYAs “came out”. AYAs expressed a range of behaviors that included: expressing distrust of non-transgender people (22.7%); stopping spending time with non-transgender friends (25.0%); trying to isolate themselves from their families (49.4%), and only trusting information about gender dysphoria from transgender sources (46.6%).


Rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) describes a phenomenon where the development of gender dysphoria is observed to begin suddenly during or after puberty in an adolescent or young adult who would not have met criteria for gender dysphoria in childhood. ROGD appears to represent an entity that is distinct from the gender dysphoria observed in individuals who have previously been described as transgender. The worsening of mental well-being and parent-child relationships and behaviors that isolate AYAs from their parents, families, non-transgender friends and mainstream sources of information are particularly concerning. More research is needed to better understand this phenomenon, its implications and scope.

--- and the administrative and bureaucratic stupidity that followed
debates  nature-nurture  social_influence  contagion  social_networks  sociology_of_science  gender_studies  social_construction_of_ignorance  university  academia  bureaucracy 
6 weeks ago by rvenkat
Fanning the Flames of Hate: Social Media and Hate Crime by Karsten Müller, Carlo Schwarz :: SSRN
This paper investigates the link between social media and hate crime using Facebook data. We study the case of Germany, where the recently emerged right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has developed a major social media presence. We show that right-wing anti-refugee sentiment on Facebook predicts violent crimes against refugees in otherwise similar municipalities with higher social media usage. To further establish causality, we exploit exogenous variation in major internet and Facebook outages, which fully undo the correlation between social media and hate crime. We further find that the effect decreases with distracting news events; increases with user network interactions; and does not hold for posts unrelated to refugees. Our results suggest that social media can act as a propagation mechanism between online hate speech and real-life violent crime.
media_studies  social_influence  platform_studies  violence  mediation_analysis  ?  causal_inference  i_remain_skeptical 
7 weeks ago by rvenkat
Changing climates of conflict: A social network experiment in 56 schools | PNAS
Theories of human behavior suggest that individuals attend to the behavior of certain people in their community to understand what is socially normative and adjust their own behavior in response. An experiment tested these theories by randomizing an anticonflict intervention across 56 schools with 24,191 students. After comprehensively measuring every school’s social network, randomly selected seed groups of 20–32 students from randomly selected schools were assigned to an intervention that encouraged their public stance against conflict at school. Compared with control schools, disciplinary reports of student conflict at treatment schools were reduced by 30% over 1 year. The effect was stronger when the seed group contained more “social referent” students who, as network measures reveal, attract more student attention. Network analyses of peer-to-peer influence show that social referents spread perceptions of conflict as less socially normative.
social_influence  social_networks  social_psychology  norms  intervention  causal_inference 
7 weeks ago by rvenkat
Centola, D.: How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
"New social movements, technologies, and public-health initiatives often struggle to take off, yet many diseases disperse rapidly without issue. Can the lessons learned from the viral diffusion of diseases be used to improve the spread of beneficial behaviors and innovations? In How Behavior Spreads, Damon Centola presents over a decade of original research examining how changes in societal behavior--in voting, health, technology, and finance—occur and the ways social networks can be used to influence how they propagate. Centola's startling findings show that the same conditions accelerating the viral expansion of an epidemic unexpectedly inhibit the spread of behaviors.
"While it is commonly believed that "weak ties"—long-distance connections linking acquaintances—lead to the quicker spread of behaviors, in fact the exact opposite holds true. Centola demonstrates how the most well-known, intuitive ideas about social networks have caused past diffusion efforts to fail, and how such efforts might succeed in the future. Pioneering the use of Web-based methods to understand how changes in people's social networks alter their behaviors, Centola illustrates the ways in which these insights can be applied to solve countless problems of organizational change, cultural evolution, and social innovation. His findings offer important lessons for public health workers, entrepreneurs, and activists looking to harness networks for social change."
to:NB  books:noted  contagion  social_influence  social_networks  centola.damon  sociology  re:homophily_and_confounding 
july 2018 by cshalizi
[1611.06713] Is Gun Violence Contagious?
"Existing theories of gun violence predict stable spatial concentrations and contagious diffusion of gun violence into surrounding areas. Recent empirical studies have reported confirmatory evidence of such spatiotemporal diffusion of gun violence. However, existing tests cannot readily distinguish spatiotemporal clustering from spatiotemporal diffusion. This leaves as an open question whether gun violence actually is contagious or merely clusters in space and time. Compounding this problem, gun violence is subject to considerable measurement error with many nonfatal shootings going unreported to police. Using point process data from an acoustical gunshot locator system and a combination of Bayesian spatiotemporal point process modeling and space/time interaction tests, this paper demonstrates that contemporary urban gun violence does diffuse, but only slightly, suggesting that a disease model for infectious spread of gun violence is a poor fit for the geographically stable and temporally stochastic process observed."
in_NB  crime  spatio-temporal_statistics  point_processes  social_influence  flaxman.seth 
may 2018 by cshalizi
Social Learning Strategies: Bridge-Building between Fields: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
"While social learning is widespread, indiscriminate copying of others is rarely beneficial. Theory suggests that individuals should be selective in what, when, and whom they copy, by following ‘social learning strategies’ (SLSs). The SLS concept has stimulated extensive experimental work, integrated theory, and empirical findings, and created impetus to the social learning and cultural evolution fields. However, the SLS concept needs updating to accommodate recent findings that individuals switch between strategies flexibly, that multiple strategies are deployed simultaneously, and that there is no one-to-one correspondence between psychological heuristics deployed and resulting population-level patterns. The field would also benefit from the simultaneous study of mechanism and function. SLSs provide a useful vehicle for bridge-building between cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology."
to:NB  social_learning  cultural_transmission  cultural_evolution  cognitive_science  social_influence  re:do-institutions-evolve 
may 2018 by cshalizi
Niezink , Snijders : Co-evolution of social networks and continuous actor attributes
"Social networks and the attributes of the actors in these networks are not static; they may develop interdependently over time. The stochastic actor-oriented model allows for statistical inference on the mechanisms driving this co-evolution process. In earlier versions of this model, dynamic actor attributes are assumed to be measured on an ordinal categorical scale. We present an extension of the stochastic actor-oriented model that does away with this restriction using a stochastic differential equation to model the evolution of continuous actor attributes. We estimate the parameters by a procedure based on the method of moments. The proposed method is applied to study the dynamics of a friendship network among the students at an Australian high school. In particular, we model the relationship between friendship and obesity, focusing on body mass index as a continuous co-evolving attribute."
to:NB  social_networks  network_data_analysis  social_influence  stochastic_differential_equations  statistics  have_read  heard_the_talk  to_teach:baby-nets  niezink.nynke  snijders.tom 
april 2018 by cshalizi
Infectious Disease Modeling of Social Contagion in Networks
"It has recently been suggested that certain, particular types of latent homophily, in which an unobservable trait influences both which friends one chooses and current and future behavior, may be impossible to distinguish from contagion in observational studies and hence may bias estimates of contagion and homophily [50]. The circumstances under which this is likely to be a serious source of bias (e.g., whether people, empirically, behave in these sorts of ways), and what (if anything) might be done about it (absent experimental data of the kind that some new networks studies are providing [22]) merits further study. Observational data invariably pose problems for causal inference, and require one set of assumptions or another to analyze; the plausibility of these assumptions (even of standard ones that are widely used) warrants constant review.
"The SISa model as presented here assumes that all individuals have the same probability of changing state (though not everyone will actually change state within their lifetime). It is clearly possible, however, that there is heterogeneity between individuals in these rates. We do not have sufficient data on obesity in the Framingham dataset to explore this issue, which would require observing numerous transitions between states for each individual. Exploring individual differences in acquisition rate empirically is a very interesting topic for future research, as is extending the theoretical framework we introduce to take into account individual differences."

--- For "suggested", read "proved"; the second paragraph amounts to saying "Let's just agree to ignore this".
to:NB  contagion  epidemic_models  social_influence  re:homophily_and_confounding  christakis.nicholas  via:rvenkat  have_skimmed 
march 2018 by cshalizi
Behavioral Communities and the Atomic Structure of Networks by Matthew O. Jackson, Evan Storms :: SSRN
"We develop a theory of 'behavioral communities' and the 'atomic structure' of networks. We define atoms to be groups of agents whose behaviors always match each other in a set of coordination games played on the network. This provides a microfoundation for a method of detecting communities in social and economic networks. We provide theoretical results characterizing such behavior-based communities and atomic structures and discussing their properties in large random networks. We also provide an algorithm for identifying behavioral communities. We discuss applications including: a method of estimating underlying preferences by observing behavioral conventions in data, and optimally seeding diffusion processes when there are peer interactions and homophily. We illustrate the techniques with applications to high school friendship networks and rural village networks."
to:NB  to_read  diffusion_of_innovations  community_discovery  networks  network_data_analysis  social_influence  jackson.matthew_o.  re:do-institutions-evolve  via:rvenkat 
march 2018 by cshalizi
How Not to Cover Mass Shootings - WSJ
"The often sensationalistic media attention given to perpetrators is central to why massacres are happening more."
have_read  track_down_references  crime  social_influence  to:NB 
january 2018 by cshalizi
Social network fragmentation and community health
"Community health interventions often seek to intentionally destroy paths between individuals to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Immunizing individuals through direct vaccination or the provision of health education prevents pathogen transmission and the propagation of misinformation concerning medical treatments. However, it remains an open question whether network-based strategies should be used in place of conventional field approaches to target individuals for medical treatment in low-income countries. We collected complete friendship and health advice networks in 17 rural villages of Mayuge District, Uganda. Here we show that acquaintance algorithms, i.e., selecting neighbors of randomly selected nodes, were systematically more efficient in fragmenting all networks than targeting well-established community roles, i.e., health workers, village government members, and schoolteachers. Additionally, community roles were not good proxy indicators of physical proximity to other households or connections to many sick people. We also show that acquaintance algorithms were effective in offsetting potential noncompliance with deworming treatments for 16,357 individuals during mass drug administration (MDA). Health advice networks were destroyed more easily than friendship networks. Only an average of 32% of nodes were removed from health advice networks to reduce the percentage of nodes at risk for refusing treatment in MDA to below 25%. Treatment compliance of at least 75% is needed in MDA to control human morbidity attributable to parasitic worms and progress toward elimination. Our findings point toward the potential use of network-based approaches as an alternative to role-based strategies for targeting individuals in rural health interventions."
to:NB  social_networks  epidemiology_of_representations  social_influence  networks  re:do-institutions-evolve 
september 2017 by cshalizi
Reach and speed of judgment propagation in the laboratory
"In recent years, a large body of research has demonstrated that judgments and behaviors can propagate from person to person. Phenomena as diverse as political mobilization, health practices, altruism, and emotional states exhibit similar dynamics of social contagion. The precise mechanisms of judgment propagation are not well understood, however, because it is difficult to control for confounding factors such as homophily or dynamic network structures. We introduce an experimental design that renders possible the stringent study of judgment propagation. In this design, experimental chains of individuals can revise their initial judgment in a visual perception task after observing a predecessor’s judgment. The positioning of a very good performer at the top of a chain created a performance gap, which triggered waves of judgment propagation down the chain. We evaluated the dynamics of judgment propagation experimentally. Despite strong social influence within pairs of individuals, the reach of judgment propagation across a chain rarely exceeded a social distance of three to four degrees of separation. Furthermore, computer simulations showed that the speed of judgment propagation decayed exponentially with the social distance from the source. We show that information distortion and the overweighting of other people’s errors are two individual-level mechanisms hindering judgment propagation at the scale of the chain. Our results contribute to the understanding of social-contagion processes, and our experimental method offers numerous new opportunities to study judgment propagation in the laboratory."
to:NB  social_influence  experimental_psychology  experimental_sociology  re:homophily_and_confounding 
august 2017 by cshalizi
The Economic Consequences of Social-Network Structure
"We survey the literature on the economic consequences of the structure of social networks. We develop a taxonomy of "macro" and "micro" characteristics of social-interaction networks and discuss both the theoretical and empirical findings concerning the role of those characteristics in determining learning, diffusion, decisions, and resulting behaviors. We also discuss the challenges of accounting for the endogeneity of networks in assessing the relationship between the patterns of interactions and behaviors."
to:NB  economics  social_networks  social_influence  re:do-institutions-evolve  jackson.matthew_o. 
august 2017 by cshalizi
Murder by Structure: Dominance Relations and the Social Structure of Gang Homicide: American Journal of Sociology: Vol 115, No 1
"Most sociological theories consider murder an outcome of the differential distribution of individual, neighborhood, or social characteristics. And while such studies explain variation in aggregate homicide rates, they do not explain the social order of murder, that is, who kills whom, when, where, and for what reason. This article argues that gang murder is best understood not by searching for its individual determinants but by examining the social networks of action and reaction that create it. In short, the social structure of gang murder is defined by the manner in which social networks are constructed and by people's placement in them. The author uses a network approach and incident‐level homicide records to recreate and analyze the structure of gang murders in Chicago. Findings demonstrate that individual murders between gangs create an institutionalized network of group conflict, net of any individual's participation or motive. Within this network, murders spread through an epidemic‐like process of social contagion as gangs evaluate the highly visible actions of others in their local networks and negotiate dominance considerations that arise during violent incidents."

--- Uses the same old methods for detecting contagion as Christakis-Fowler; perhaps more plausible here?
to:NB  have_read  social_networks  violence  contagion  social_influence  sociology  re:network_differences  honor  re:homophily_and_confounding 
august 2017 by cshalizi
[1706.08440] Challenges to estimating contagion effects from observational data
"A growing body of literature attempts to learn about contagion using observational (i.e. non-experimental) data collected from a single social network. While the conclusions of these studies may be correct, the methods rely on assumptions that are likely--and sometimes guaranteed to be--false, and therefore the evidence for the conclusions is often weaker than it seems. Developing methods that do not need to rely on implausible assumptions is an incredibly challenging and important open problem in statistics. Appropriate methods don't (yet!) exist, so researchers hoping to learn about contagion from observational social network data are sometimes faced with a dilemma: they can abandon their research program, or they can use inappropriate methods. This chapter will focus on the challenges and the open problems and will not weigh in on that dilemma, except to mention here that the most responsible way to use any statistical method, especially when it is well-known that the assumptions on which it rests do not hold, is with a healthy dose of skepticism, with honest acknowledgment and deep understanding of the limitations, and with copious caveats about how to interpret the results."
to:NB  have_read  ogburn.elizabeth  contagion  homophily  social_influence  social_networks  causal_inference  statistics  re:homophily_and_confounding 
july 2017 by cshalizi

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