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Surprising Science

Social Networking

“People vary in their locations in social networks in part, we think, because there is no one location that is best, for us as individuals or for us as a species.”

Jonah Lehrer at The Frontal Cortex interviews two authors of a new study on one’s relative place in a social network. Is it better to be at the center of a group of people or more on the periphery? It depends on whether the group is offering the seasonal flu or job opportunities, say the authors: “If a deadly germ is flowing through the network, it would be better to be on the edge of the network and/or to have few or no friends. A hermit cannot get a communicable disease. On the other hand, if a valuable piece of information is flowing through the network (e.g., about how to find a job), then it is better to be in the middle of the network, and/or to have more friends.”


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