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Personality homophily and social-spatial characteristics in online social networks

Noe, Nyala 2018. Personality homophily and social-spatial characteristics in online social networks. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Do birds of a feather flock together or do opposites attract? The aim of this thesis is to consider this question in the context of online social networks. Humans, unlike birds, can flock together based on a wide variety of characteristics, such as age, gender, or political affiliation. The tendency of people to assort based on a common trait is referred to as homophily. Research into homophilous traits has often overlooked psychological characteristics. In particular, while personality is studied extensively in the context of social media use, it has received little attention in the homophily literature, which is a gap this work endeavours to bridge. Online social networks have become ubiquitous in our daily lives and understanding their dynamics gives valuable insight into this new form of social interaction. This thesis highlights the importance of personality homophily in shaping online social networks, while also considering the inherent geographic constraints. In offline social networks, geographic proximity allows for frequent face-to-face interactions, which are essential for the formation and maintenance of friendships. Online networks often reflect offline networks, meaning that people still tend to cluster with others who are geographically close. Using datasets from Facebook and Foursquare, we explore the relationship between personality homophily and geographic distance in detail by considering the distance between similar and dissimilar people, and how they differ in their co-location patterns. We find that people assort based on their personality in both social and spatial contexts, although not all aspects of our personality are equally homophilous. Openness to experience and Conscientiousness emerged as the personality facets with the strongest homophilic tendencies, while Neuroticism appeared to be less homophilous; Agreeableness and Extraversion fall somewhere in the middle. In other words, birds of a feather do seem to flock together, but this depends on the personality facet considered.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Submission
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Computer Science & Informatics
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 January 2019
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2021 14:11

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