Information Flow in Social Networks
Gene Ann Shelley, H. Russell Bernard, Peter D. Killworth
We attempted to operationalize the strength of social tie by measuring the amount of time it took for informants to send and receive personal information from their social network members. We reasoned that "stronger" ties (i.e. those people rated “close" by an informant) would be told about certain life events sooner than "weaker" ties would be told. We hoped to develop a measure which could be used to predict strength of social tie. We were unsuccessful in producing such a measure, but the experiment yielded useful information about how news flows among social network members. People rated “close” by informants transmitted news four times faster than did those rated “not close." Relatives transmitted news significantly faster than did friends or mere acquaintances. Women transmitted news at least twice as fast as men did. We investigated how the type of news transmitted, the importance of a news item and whether news was good, bad or neutral affected news transmission time.
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