Language Style Similarity and Friendship Networks

47 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2018 Last revised: 2 Mar 2019

See all articles by Balazs Kovacs

Balazs Kovacs

Yale SOM

Adam M. Kleinbaum

Tuck School of Business; Dartmouth College

Date Written: February 27, 2019


This paper demonstrates that linguistic similarity predicts network tie formation and that friends exhibit linguistic convergence over time. Study 1 analyzes the linguistic styles and the emerging friendship network in a complete cohort of 285 students. Study 2 analyzes a large-scale dataset of online reviews. Across both studies, we collected data in two waves to examine changes in both friendship networks and linguistic styles. Using the LIWC linguistic framework, we analyze the text of students’ essays and of 1.7 million reviews by 159,651 Yelp reviewers. We find that similarity in linguistic style corresponds to higher likelihood of friendship formation and persistence, and that friendship ties, in turn, correspond with a convergence in linguistic style. We discuss the implications of the co-evolution of linguistic styles and social networks, which contribute to the formation of relational echo chambers.

Keywords: social networks, linguistic style, computational linguistics, computational social science, homophily

Suggested Citation

Kovacs, Balazs and Kleinbaum, Adam M., Language Style Similarity and Friendship Networks (February 27, 2019). Tuck School of Business Working Paper No. 3131715. Available at SSRN: or

Balazs Kovacs (Contact Author)

Yale SOM ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Adam M. Kleinbaum

Tuck School of Business ( email )

Hanover, NH
United States


Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

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