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What Do We Learn from Our Networks?

We naturally copy others

Your experiences in the world is not only a product of your own desires, actions, and thoughts, but also a product of the desires, actions, and thoughts of people around you.

The things that are seemingly personal to you are actually very strongly influenced by similar traits in other people. You do have agency. You can choose what to do. But you're also affected by what others are doing. Both are true.

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What Do We Learn from Our Networks?

What Do We Learn from Our Networks?

https://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/what-do-we-learn-from-networks

insights.som.yale.edu

7

Key Ideas

A network is more than just a group of individuals

In addition, a network has ties between people.

The connections between individuals are what changes a group to a network.

Social networks have a strong effect on our ideas

You may think it was your idea to keep your desk neat or speak up in a meeting, but your behavior was likely influenced by those in your network.

Once we understand social networks, we can use its power to shape workplaces for the better. You can turn an unhappy team into an innovative, collaborative one.

We naturally copy others

Your experiences in the world is not only a product of your own desires, actions, and thoughts, but also a product of the desires, actions, and thoughts of people around you.

The things that are seemingly personal to you are actually very strongly influenced by similar traits in other people. You do have agency. You can choose what to do. But you're also affected by what others are doing. Both are true.

How people connect makes a difference

Studies have shown that you can take a group of people and connect them one way, and they'll be happy, cooperative, and innovative. You can take the same people and join them another way, with a different network topology, and they're unhappy, uncooperative, and stagnant.

The properties like innovation, for example, are then not just properties of individuals, but rather properties of collections of people.

Identifying influential people

To identify influential people, you need to define the kinds of interactions you're interested in.

For example, you might ask people about many different sorts of ties. "Who do you rely on to do your job well?" "Who do you hang out with after work?" "Who would you trust for a referral for a babysitter?" Then you could consider which individuals are structurally influential for this or that purpose and focus on them.

Online and offline networks

There are four ways in which online networks differ from offline networks.

  • Scale: It is possible to interact with a huge number of other individuals online.
  • Communality: Online networks facilitate large-scale cooperation.
  • Specificity: It is very easy to find a specific kind of person very quickly, such as online communities with particular interests and tastes.
  • Virtuality: People can pretend to be someone they are not on the internet, for instance, a man can have a female avatar or a woman a male avatar.

How inequality affects networks

People generally don't think inequality is good, but they may think it is unavoidable. Other people believe inequality can be quite corrosive and negatively affect the health of a community.

Inequality is not the same as the visibility of inequality. In companies, when equality is high, visibility is not harmful. When inequality is high, visibility is harmful. For example, if the wage gap between the CEO and the employee is about five times, then everyone can know what everyone else is making. Everyone then becomes happier and more cooperative. However, if the CEO makes 500 times that of the employee, do not publicize the inequality. That is very corrosive.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Homo Narrativus
Homo Narrativus

We, humans, seek stories.

We are essentially ‘story finders’ looking for meaning, narrative and shape in everything around us. We tend to not believe in improbable...

Bias Towards The Individual

Stories built around individuals provide relatability and a sense of being in the shoes of the people involved, living in the narrative.

Our tendency to give a ‘face’ and a story to a group or collection of people made us invent a dominant leader of the group, like the President, or the Team Captain, or the Monarch.

How Fame Alters Our Perceptions
  • The popularity or fame of an individual or a piece of art (like a painting, song or a movie) alters how we perceive it.
  • The characteristics and behaviour of the people among whom fame spreads matters more than the actual merit or quality.
  • A study showed that more people liked the songs that were topping the charts, copying the behaviour of other listeners, and if the same songs were arranged randomly, they were not chosen or liked that much.

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Social structure
Social structure

Social structure is the organized set of social institutions and patterns of institutionalized relationships that together make up a society.

Social structures are not immediately vis...

The Macro Level of Society

The major social institutions include family, religion, education, media, law, politics, and economy. These are separate institutions that are interrelated and interdependent. Together they form the overarching social structure of a society.

There usually is a hierarchy to these relationships, which results in a power differential. The organization and operation of these social institutions result in other aspects of social structure, including socio-economic stratification.

The Meso Level

The meso level can be seen in the social networks that are organized by social institutions and institutionalized social relationships.

Our social networks also show up in social stratification, where relations are structured by class differences, differences in educational attainment, and differences in levels of wealth. In turn, it may shape the kinds of opportunities available and foster behavioral norms that determine the direction of our lives.

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Network Effects

Network effects are the unseen forces that are guiding our destiny and exerting a powerful intervention on our lives, creating energy that escorts us down a path that is not always fully our intent...

Zipf's Law

Zipf's law is a mathematical probability that states that in a given set, the most frequently used data value (or word) is used twice as often as the next most common value. This is true in various statistical sets like income distribution in companies, internet traffic, phone calls received, and language.

One of the implications of this law is there are unconscious network forces and mathematical patterns governing our lives, with human beings just being nodes exchanging information.

Dinner Party Mathematics

When six to eight people are conversing at a dinner party, it is easy to focus on one conversation, but if the number is higher (say 15), then two-way conversations are more likely.

When groups get larger, the change is exponential, not linear, affecting one's social experience.

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