The persistence of social signatures in human communication

Saramäki, J., Leicht, E. A., López, Eduardo, Roberts, S. G. B. and Reed-Tsochas, Felix (2013) The persistence of social signatures in human communication. CABDyN. (Unpublished)

WarningThere is a more recent version of this item available.


The social brain hypothesis has suggested that social network size (and structure) is constrained by a combination of cognitive processes and the time required to service social relationships. We test this hypothesis in humans using a unique 18-month mobile phone dataset by examining changes in the structure of social networks across a major change in subjects' social and geographical circumstances. Our analysis reveals that the time allocation patterns of call frequency by participants to network members have a distinctive overall shape, where a small number of top-ranked network members received a disproportionately large fraction of calls, with some individual variation. However, importantly, whilst there was a large turnover of individual network members, these changes have little effect on the time allocation patterns of each individual: individuals thus displayed a distinctive "social signature" that was both persistent over time and independent of the identities of the network members. This provides the first direct evidence that social networks are constrained by a combination of cognitive constraints and the time individuals have available for social interaction, confirming one of the key assumptions of the social brain hypothesis.

Item Type: Other Working Paper
Keywords: quantitative sociology; personal relationships
Subject(s): Complexity
Centre: CABDyN Complexity Centre
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2013 12:31
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:08

Available Versions of this Item

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View