Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Born Leaders (Gossips/Flirts/Wallflowers, etc.)

According to studies, your role in (and the size of) your social network is a function of your genetic code. Whether you're the central hub in a network of interconnected acquaintances or an outlier with a few friends who don't know each other, your position is apparently predicted by your genes.

To get these results, they studied fraternal and identical twins. The identical twins had the same number of people who knew them as friends, and those friends had an equal chance of knowing each other. Fraternal twins had social networks of differing "shapes," with different numbers of friends and a varying likelihood of whether or not those friends knew each other.

Almost as interesting as the unsung breakthrough itself is the ability of the professors involved to milk a concept for all the sweet, sweet grant money that they can get their hands on. That's right. Research into social networks should sound familiar for good reason--these same two professors from Harvard Medical School and UC San Diego were in the news previously for using grant money to research how social networks spread happiness.

I wish I had paid more attention in school. Then I'd be able to get people to pay me for spending all my time on myspace thoroughly researching social networks like these two professors.

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The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
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