Model of Genetic Variation in Human Social Networks

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 106, No. 6, pp. 1720-1724, February 2009

38 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2009 Last revised: 15 Mar 2009

See all articles by James H. Fowler

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; UC San Diego School of Medicine

Christopher T. Dawes

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science

Nicholas A. Christakis

Harvard University - Department of Health Care Policy

Date Written: February 1, 2009

Abstract

Social networks exhibit strikingly systematic patterns across a wide range of human contexts. While genetic variation accounts for a significant portion of the variation in many complex social behaviors, the heritability of egocentric social network attributes is unknown. Here we show that three of these attributes (in-degree, transitivity, and centrality) are heritable. We then develop a "mirror network" method to test extant network models and show that none account for observed genetic variation in human social networks. We propose an alternative "Attract and Introduce" model with two simple forms of heterogeneity that generates significant heritability as well as other important network features. We show that the model is well suited to real social networks in humans. These results suggest that natural selection may have played a role in the evolution of social networks. They also suggest that modeling intrinsic variation in network attributes may be important for understanding the way genes affect human behaviors and the way these behaviors spread from person to person.

Suggested Citation

Fowler, James H. and Dawes, Christopher T. and Christakis, Nicholas A., Model of Genetic Variation in Human Social Networks (February 1, 2009). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 106, No. 6, pp. 1720-1724, February 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1336167 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1336167

James H. Fowler (Contact Author)

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

UC San Diego School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

Christopher T. Dawes

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://dss.ucsd.edu/~cdawes/

Nicholas A. Christakis

Harvard University - Department of Health Care Policy ( email )

25 Shattuck Street
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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