Network Science

Multidimensional homophily in friendship networks  *

PER BLOCKa1 and THOMAS GRUNDa2

a1 Oxford University, Nuffield College, New Road, OX1 1NF, Oxford, United Kingdom (e-mail: per.block@nuffield.ox.ac.uk)

a2 Institute for Futures Studies, Box 591, Holländargatan 13, 10131 Stockholm, Sweden and Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, Sweden (e-mail: thomas.grund@iffs.se)

Abstract

Homophily—the tendency for individuals to associate with similar others—is one of the most persistent findings in social network analysis. Its importance is established along the lines of a multitude of sociologically relevant dimensions, e.g. sex, ethnicity and social class. Existing research, however, mostly focuses on one dimension at a time. But people are inherently multidimensional, have many attributes and are members of multiple groups. In this article, we explore such multidimensionality further in the context of network dynamics. Are friendship ties increasingly likely to emerge and persist when individuals have an increasing number of attributes in common? We analyze eleven friendship networks of adolescents, draw on stochastic actor-oriented network models and focus on the interaction of established homophily effects. Our results indicate that main effects for homophily on various dimensions are positive. At the same time, the interaction of these homophily effects is negative. There seems to be a diminishing effect for having more than one attribute in common. We conclude that studies of homophily and friendship formation need to address such multidimensionality further.

Keywords:

  • homophily;
  • network evolution;
  • stochastic actor-oriented models;
  • adolescent networks

Footnotes

*  The collection of the DyNet data used in this research was supported by Award Number R01HD052887 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute Of Child Health & Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute Of Child Health & Human Development or the National Institutes of Health. The collection of the ASSIST data used in this research was funded by the project “Social Network Analysis of Peers and Smoking in Adolescence (SNAPS)” funded by the Medical Research Council of the UK.

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