Homophily and Contagion are Generically Confounded in Observational Social Network Studies
AbstractThe authors consider processes on social networks that can potentially involve three factors: homophily, or the formation of social ties due to matching individual traits; social contagion, also known as social influence; and the causal effect of an individual's covariates on his or her behavior or other measurable responses. The authors show that generically, all of these are confounded with each other. Distinguishing them from one another requires strong assumptions on the parametrization of the social process or on the adequacy of the covariates used (or both). In particular the authors demonstrate, with simple examples, that asymmetries in regression coefficients cannot identify causal effects and that very simple models of imitation (a form of social contagion) can produce substantial correlations between an individual's enduring traits and his or her choices, even when there is no intrinsic affinity between them. The authors also suggest some possible constructive responses to these results.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by in its journal Sociological Methods & Research.
Volume (Year): 40 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Contact details of provider:
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Lacetera, Nicola & Macis, Mario & Mele, Angelo, 2014. "Viral Altruism? Generosity and Social Contagion in Online Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 8171, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Jesse Shore & Ethan Bernstein & David Lazer, 2014. "Facts and Figuring: An Experimental Investigation of Network Structure and Performance in Information and Solution Spaces," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-075, Harvard Business School, revised Jun 2014.
- Videras, Julio & Owen, Ann L. & Conover, Emily & Wu, Stephen, 2012. "The influence of social relationships on pro-environment behaviors," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 35-50.
- Fabio Landini & Natalia Montinari & Paolo Pin & Marco Piovesan, 2014.
"Friendship Network in the Classroom: Parents Bias and Peer Effects,"
14-06, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
- Landini, Fabio & Montinari, Natalia & Pin, Paolo & Piovesan, Marco, 2014. "Friendship Network in the Classroom: Parent Bias and Peer Effects," Working Papers 2014:19, Lund University, Department of Economics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.