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15 - Models for Social Influence

from Part III - Making Structural Predictions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 September 2023

Craig M. Rawlings
Duke University, North Carolina
Jeffrey A. Smith
Nova Scotia Health Authority
James Moody
Duke University, North Carolina
Daniel A. McFarland
Stanford University, California
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Connectionist approaches to social networks often speak of flows of ideas, attitudes, and behaviors through ties as social influence and as peer influence in the specific case of flows among friends and acquaintanceships. Modeling social influence is no easy task. How do we determine where a particular idea came from in a network and who influenced whom? In establishing the presence of social influence, a researcher must theoretically and empirically address many potentially confounding factors and alternate explanations. In the previous chapter, we covered network approaches to generic flows at scale. In this chapter, we more thoroughly cover some of the thorny issues involved in tracing interpersonal influences and key modeling strategies in obtaining more detailed views of what flows and to whom.

Network Analysis
Integrating Social Network Theory, Method, and Application with R
, pp. 364 - 389
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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Suggested Further Reading

adams, jimi, and Schaefer, David R. 2016. “How Initial Prevalence Moderates Network-Based Smoking Change: Estimating Contextual Effects with Stochastic Actor-Based Models.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 57: 2238. (An excellent model paper for using SOAMs over multiple waves and multiple contexts.)Google Scholar
An, Weihua, Beauvile, Roberson, and Rosche, Benjamin. 2022. “Causal Network Analysis.” Annual Review of Sociology 48: 2341. (An excellent overview of the identification problem of selection or influence in empirical work on peer influence.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Aral, Sinan, Muchnik, Lev, and Sundararajan, Arun. 2009. “Distinguishing Influence-Based Contagion from Homophily-Driven Diffusion in Dynamic Networks.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106: 21544–49. (An excellent use of instrumental variables for identifying causal effect of peers.)CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Christakis, Nicholas A., and Fowler, James H.. 2007. “The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years.” New England Journal of Medicine 357: 370–79. (Arguably the most influential paper on peer influence in the last twenty years, sparking numerous debates and wide methodological investigations into network causal identification.)Google Scholar
Flache, Andreas, Mäs, Michael, Feliciani, Thomas et al. 2017. “Models of Social Influence: Towards the Next Frontiers.” Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 20(4): 2. (A useful review of mainly simulation-based attempts to model social influence processes based on various theoretical accounts.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Friedkin, Noah E., and Johnsen, Eugene C.. 1998. A Structural Theory of Social Influence. New York: Cambridge University Press. (The foundational theoretical work on peer influence in networks; most other subsequent works have been elaborations on this base model.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Friedkin, Noah E., and Johnsen, Eugene C.. 2011. Social Influence Network Theory: A Sociological Examination of Small Group Dynamics. New York: Cambridge University Press. (An extension and application of their earlier work on formal models for peer influence.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Friedkin, Noah E., Proskurnikov, Anton V., Tempo, Roberto, and Parsegov, Sergey E.. 2016. “Network Science on Belief System Dynamics under Logic Constraints.” Science 354: 321–26. (Extends the interpersonal peer influence model among groups to include logical constraints on the beliefs themselves.)CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kandel, Denise B. 1978. “Homophily, Selection, and Socialization in Adolescent Friendship Pairs.” American Journal of Sociology 48: 427–36. (One of the key early papers to highlight issues related to selection and overestimation of peer effects from respondents’ self-reports; nicely outlines the logic of influence identification.)Google Scholar
Papachristos, Andrew. 2009. “Murder by Structure: Dominance Relations and the Social Structure of Gang Homicide.” American Journal of Sociology 115: 74128. (Uses unique data on arrests to map and then model the spread of violence in Chicago.)CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sacerdote, Bruce. 2001. “Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 116: 681704. (An early example of using randomization on networks to identify peer influence; sparked numerous other similar assessments.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Snijders, Tom A. B., Van de Bunt, Gerhard G., and Steglich, Christian E. G.. 2020. “Introduction to Stochastic Actor-Based Models for Network Dynamics.” Social Networks 32(1): 4460. (A clear and rigorous introduction to SAOMs by the team that developed the approach.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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