Close encounters: Analyzing how social similarity and propinquity contribute to strong network connections.
Author(s)Reagans, Ray Eugene
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Models of network formation emphasize the importance of social similarity and propinquity in producing strong interpersonal connections. The positive effect each factor can have on tie strength has been documented across a number of studies, and yet we know surprisingly very little about how the two factors combine to produce strong ties. Being in close proximity could either amplify or dampen the positive effect that social similarity can have on tie strength. Data on tie strength among teachers working in five public schools were analyzed to shed light on this theoretical question. The empirical results indicate that teachers who were similar in age were more likely to be connected by a strong tie, especially teachers for whom age similarity was more likely to be salient. Moreover, teachers who took breaks at the same time or who had classrooms on the same floor communicated more frequently and felt more emotionally attached. Among the public school teachers, propinquity amplified the positive effect that age similarity had on tie strength. The strongest network connections occurred among age-similar teachers who had classrooms on the same floor. The empirical results illustrate the value of considering how social similarity and propinquity contribute to strong ties independently and when combined with each other.
DepartmentSloan School of Management
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
Reagans, R. “Close Encounters: Analyzing How Social Similarity and Propinquity Contribute to Strong Network Connections.” Organization Science 22.4 (2011): 835–849.
Author's final manuscript