According to a phenomenon known as the “friendship paradox,” your friends are on average more popular than you. Now a group of mathematicians have come up with a new theory that takes the paradox of friendship beyond the average, and they have found that their equations explain the difference in real-world popularity among friends. ..
Sociologist Scott Feld first explained the idea of the “friendship paradox” in a journal article entitled “Why Your Friends Have More Friends Than You” in 1991. The general idea, based on a simple calculation, is that on average, a person’s friends have more friends than that person’s friends.
However, “the average can often be very misleading, or at least not able to explain people’s experiences,” said George Cantwell, a postdoctoral fellow at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. “Some people are less popular than their friends, others are more popular.”
To understand why, consider a person with only two friends and a person with hundreds of friends. Now imagine entering this social bubble. Possibility to make friends with social butterflies more than wallflowers just because they have more “chance” to be one of the hundreds of friends of social butterfly than one of the two best buds of wallflower Will be higher. .. However, it is still possible for you to make friends with Wallflower, and focusing on the average can make it difficult to tell when that will happen.
Now, Kantwell and his colleagues have developed a new formula to better match the friendship paradox with the different situations found in real-world social networks. They created the equations based on two assumptions from real-world research. Depending on the social network analyzed, the number of friends people have varies considerably. And popular people are more likely to have popular friends, and less popular people are more likely to have unpopular friends.
Researchers have also developed a new mathematical theory to explain another variation of the friendship paradox known as the “generalized friendship paradox.” This is based on the assumption that popular people are wealthier and look better than unpopular people.
Their new equation, which explains these assumptions, can explain 95% of the variance in real-world situations, Kantwell told Live Science in an email.
Their equation shows that the paradox of friendship tends to be stronger in social networks made up of people with very different popularity. For example, if a person with only two friends is on the same social network as 100 friends, the friendship paradox of that network is generally better than the network where the most social person in the network has 10 friends. Becomes stronger. There are three most “friends”.
The point is, “Our social circle is a biased sample of the population.” It’s not exactly clear how that bias will occur in certain cases, but in most cases “it’s probably not appropriate to compare yourself to your friends,” Kantwell said.
Such formulas help explain other aspects of society, such as election voting and the spread of infectious diseases. “There are some interesting things to explore next,” Kantwell said. Some studies have shown that polls on elections can be improved by asking about people’s “social circles,” but the findings have been observed and not mathematically calculated, he said. ..
In addition, those who are in close physical contact with you are statistically more likely to be in such close physical contact with many others. Therefore, the friendship paradox equation can also help shed light on the epidemic of infectious diseases. For example, according to a 2010 journal survey, influenza monitoring uses the friendship paradox to detect outbreaks on average two weeks earlier than traditional monitoring methods. PLOS One..
“To be precise, how does this affect the dynamics of the disease?” He asked.
Survey results on May 27 Journal of Complex Networks..
Originally published in Live Science.
The “friendship paradox” does not always explain true friendship, mathematicians say
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