On the duration of face-to-face contacts
Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS/IN2P3, IJCLab, 91405, Orsay, France
2 Université Paris-Cité, IJCLab, 91405, Orsay, France
3 Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology (CIRB), Collège de France, CNRS, INSERM, Université PSL, Paris, France
Accepted: 20 December 2023
Published online: 10 January 2024
The analysis of social networks, in particular those describing face-to-face interactions between individuals, is complex due to the intertwining of the topological and temporal aspects. We revisit here both, using public data recorded by the sociopatterns wearable sensors in some very different sociological environments, putting particular emphasis on the contact duration timelines. As well known, the distribution of the contact duration for all the interactions within a group is broad, with tails that resemble each other, but not precisely, in different contexts. By separating each interacting pair, we find that the fluctuations of the contact duration around the mean-interaction time follow however a very similar pattern. This common robust behavior is observed on 7 different datasets. It suggests that, although the set of persons we interact with and the mean-time spent together, depend strongly on the environment, our tendency to allocate more or less time than usual with a given individual is invariant, i.e. governed by some rules that lie outside the social context. Additional data reveal the same fluctuations in a baboon population. This new metric, which we call the relation “contrast”, can be used to build and test agent-based models, or as an input for describing long duration contacts in epidemiological studies.
Key words: Social networks / Face to face interactions / Data analysis
© The Author(s) 2024
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