Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The social network maintained by a focal individual, or ego, is intrinsically dynamic and typically exhibits some turnover in membership over time as personal circumstances change. However, the consequences of such changes on the distribution of an ego's network ties are not well understood. Here we use a unique 18-mo dataset that combines mobile phone calls and survey data to track changes in the ego networks and communication patterns of students making the transition from school to university or work. Our analysis reveals that individuals display a distinctive and robust social signature, captured by how interactions are distributed across different alters. Notably, for a given ego, these social signatures tend to persist over time, despite considerable turnover in the identity of alters in the ego network. Thus, as new network members are added, some old network members either are replaced or receive fewer calls, preserving the overall distribution of calls across network members. This is likely to reflect the consequences of finite resources such as the time available for communication, the cognitive and emotional effort required to sustain close relationships, and the ability to make emotional investments.

Original publication

DOI

10.1073/pnas.1308540110

Type

Journal article

Journal

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date

21/01/2014

Volume

111

Pages

942 - 947

Keywords

personal relationships, quantitative sociology, Adolescent, Adolescent Development, Cell Phones, Communication, Ego, Emotions, Female, Great Britain, Humans, Interpersonal Relations, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Models, Statistical, Regression Analysis, Social Support, Students, Surveys and Questionnaires, Universities, Young Adult