2018 Impact factor 3.262

EPJ Data Science Highlight - Are your friends happier than you?

Photo from Pixabay, CC0 public domain.
Photo from Pixabay, CC0 public domain.

In an era of fleeting but constant contact with extended online communities, it is common to find yourself wondering: are your friends happier/more popular than you? To put these feelings to the test, scientists have sifted through the timelines of thousands of Twitter users, to understand the ways in which social networks affect how we feel and relate to one another.

Guest post by Johan Bollen

Social media platforms have garnered billions of users, possibly because they satisfy a strong human need for feeling connected. However, do they actually contribute to our social happiness?

In EPJ Data Science we attempt to shed some light on this issue from the perspective of network science. We are asking whether the well-known friendship paradox in social networks (i.e. your friends are likely to be more popular than you on average) translates into a happiness paradox (i.e. are your friends likely to be more happy than you on average)?

The friendship paradox is the result of skewed distributions of network connections: a few individuals have very many connections, so they are also more likely to be your friend, inflating the average popularity of your friends. As a result, many if not most people in a social network may get the impression their friends are more popular. However, does popularity actually imply happiness? And if it does, would we also observe a happiness paradox in social networks?

Continue reading here.

M. Strohmaier