Professor in Political Science and Computer and Information Science

David Lazer

Using sociometers to quantify social interaction patterns

Publication date: 
Jukka-Pekka Onnela
Benjamin N. Waber
Alex `Sandy' Pentland
Sebastian Schnorff
David Lazer
Using sociometers to quantify social interaction patterns

Research on human social interactions has traditionally relied on self-reports. Despite their widespread use, self-reported accounts of behaviour are prone to biases and necessarily reduce the range of behaviours, and the number of subjects, that may be studied simultaneously. The development of ever smaller sensors makes it possible ot study group-level human behaviour in naturalistic settings outside research laboratories. We used such sensors, sociometers, to examine gender, talkativeness and interaction style in two different contexts. Here, we find that in the collaborative context, women were much more likely to be physically proximate to other women and were also significantly more talkative than men, especially in small groups. In contrast, there were no gender-based differences in the non-collaborative setting. Our results highlight the importance of objective measurement in the study of human behaviour, here enabling us to discern context specific, gender-based differences in interaction style.

Research Areas TOC

Computational Social Science, 21st Century Democracy, Political Networks

Computational Social Science, Collective Cognition

DNA and the Criminal Justice System

21st Century Democracy, Political Networks