Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Homophily and Contagion are Generically Confounded in Observational Social Network Studies

Contents:

Author Info

  • Cosma Rohilla Shalizi

    ()
    (Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA)

  • Andrew C. Thomas

    (Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA)

Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    The 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 Info

    If 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.
    File URL: http://smr.sagepub.com/content/40/2/211.abstract
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by in its journal Sociological Methods & Research.

    Volume (Year): 40 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 211-239

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:sae:somere:v:40:y:2011:i:2:p:211-239

    Contact details of provider:

    Related research

    Keywords: contagion; social influence; homophily; causal inference; network confounding; neutral models;

    References

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. 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).
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Fabio Landini & Natalia Montinari & Paolo Pin & Marco Piovesan, 2014. "Friendship Network in the Classroom: Parents Bias and Peer Effects," Discussion Papers 14-06, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:somere:v:40:y:2011:i:2:p:211-239. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.