Roger's Equations Blog

Roger's Equations

This blog is all about science and technology (with occasional math thrown in for fun). The goal of this blog is to try and pass on the sense of excitement and wonder I feel when I read about these topics. I hope you enjoy the posts.

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The Science of Social Networks

Posted May 12, 2015 11:15 AM by Bayes

Bring Back The Mindy Project!

My wife is a big fan of Mindy Kaling. So when Fox recently cancelled The Mindy Project, she wasn't happy. It turns out she wasn't alone, The Mindy Project and Mindy Kaling have a bit of a cult following. Her book entitled "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" perfectly captures her every girl style that makes her so appealing to so many women in their 20s and 30s.

Most T.V. consists of beautiful people doing awesome things with lots of other beautiful people. Social media often reinforces this perception of a social utopia with people working very hard to present the appearance of an active social life. No doubt for a few people this is indeed reality, but the truth is far more of us are introverts than we are led to believe or realize.

So if most people are introverts, why the misperception? Why do so many relate to Mindy's fear that everyone is hanging out without her/him? Well, some scientists have tackled this question and have come up with a pretty reasonable scientific explanation.

Extraversion may be less common than we think

New research documents the 'friendship paradox' within the emerging social networks of a new class of MBA students, showing that extroverted people tend to be disproportionately represented in social networks. The findings indicate that the effect is most pronounced in the networks of socially outgoing people, suggesting that popular people may actually experience the friendship paradox more intensely than others.

Social scientists have long known that, statistically speaking, our friends are probably more popular than we are. It's a simple matter of math: Because extraverted people tend to have more friends, they are disproportionately represented in social networks--which means everyone's network is more extraverted than the population as a whole.

New research by researchers Daniel C. Feiler and Adam M. Kleinbaum of Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College extends this so-called "friendship paradox" beyond a purely mathematical claim, documenting the phenomenon within the emerging social networks of a new class of MBA students. Not only did the researchers show that extraversion bias exists in real-world networks, they found the effect is more pronounced in the networks of socially outgoing people. In other words, popular people are not immune from the friendship paradox--they experience it more intensely than others.

Article Continues Here

Perk Up, You're Not So Different

I think most adults figure this out as they get older and feel less pressure / anxiety to be socially active all the time (plus priorities change anyways). Still, this illusion wreaks havoc upon the self-esteem of teenagers. In our era of rampant social media, where there are so many opportunities for a child to feel left out, it's important they understand it's an illusion. The images they see on social media that seem to indicate that everyone is hanging out without them are about as useful as a beer commercial in describing the reality of human socialization. Don't take my word for it, read the article I linked to...at the end of the day it's just the science of social networks.

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