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How individual characteristics shape the structure of social networks

Author

Listed:
  • Yann Girard

    () (GSEFM, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany)

  • Florian Hett

    () (GSEFM, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany)

  • Daniel Schunk

    () (Department of Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universitaet Mainz, Germany)

Abstract

We study how students’ social networks emerge by documenting systematic patterns in the process of friendship formation of incoming students; these students all start out in a new environment and thus jointly create a new social network. As a specific novelty, we consider cooperativeness, time and risk preferences - elicited experimentally - together with factors like socioeconomic and personality characteristics. We find a number of robust predictors of link formation and of the position within the social network (local and global network centrality). In particular, cooperativeness has a complex association with link formation. We also find evidence for homophily along several dimensions. Finally, our results show that despite these systematic patterns, social network structures can be exogenously manipulated, as we find that random assignments of students to groups on the first two days of university impacts the students’ friendship formation process.

Suggested Citation

  • Yann Girard & Florian Hett & Daniel Schunk, 2014. "How individual characteristics shape the structure of social networks," Working Papers 1414, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, revised 17 Nov 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:jgu:wpaper:1414
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hett, Florian & Kröll, Markus & Mechtel, Mario, 2017. "Choosing Who You Are: The Structure and Behavioral Effects of Revealed Identification Preferences," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168223, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Xu, Dafeng, 2017. "Acculturational homophily," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 29-42.
    3. Florian Hett & Markus Kröll & Mario Mechtel, 2019. "Choosing Who You Are: The Structure and Behavioral Effects of Revealed Identification Preferences," Working Papers 1903, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.
    4. Chadi, Adrian & de Pinto, Marco & Schultze, Gabriel, 2019. "Young, gifted and lazy? The role of ability and labor market prospects in student effort decisions," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 66-79.
    5. Grilli, Luca & Murtinu, Samuele, 2018. "Selective subsidies, entrepreneurial founders' human capital, and access to R&D alliances," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(10), pages 1945-1963.
    6. Dinarte Diaz,Lelys Ileana, 2020. "Peer Effects on Violence : Experimental Evidence from El Salvador," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9187, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social networks; education; link formation; homophily; cooperation; field and lab data;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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