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Violating social norms when choosing friends: how rule-breakers affect social networks.

Hock K, Fefferman NH - PLoS ONE (2011)

Bottom Line: Using dynamic, self-organizing social network models we demonstrate that defying conventions in a social system can affect multiple levels of social and organizational success independently.Such actions primarily affect actors' own positions within the network, but individuals can also affect the overall structure of a network even without immediately affecting themselves or others.These results indicate that defying the established social norms can help individuals to change the properties of a social system via seemingly neutral behaviors, highlighting the power of rule-breaking behavior to transform convention-based societies, even before direct impacts on individuals can be measured.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Ecology, Evolution & Natural Resources, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States of America. hock@aesop.rutgers.edu

ABSTRACT
Social networks rely on basic rules of conduct to yield functioning societies in both human and animal populations. As individuals follow established rules, their behavioral decisions shape the social network and give it structure. Using dynamic, self-organizing social network models we demonstrate that defying conventions in a social system can affect multiple levels of social and organizational success independently. Such actions primarily affect actors' own positions within the network, but individuals can also affect the overall structure of a network even without immediately affecting themselves or others. These results indicate that defying the established social norms can help individuals to change the properties of a social system via seemingly neutral behaviors, highlighting the power of rule-breaking behavior to transform convention-based societies, even before direct impacts on individuals can be measured.

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Effects of rule-breakers on intermediary-based networks.Individuals using rule-breaking strategy primarily affected (A) their own social position (H(2) = 213.18, p<0.0001), but also made an impact on the other aspects of the social system, affecting (B) the social position of others (H(2) = 6.79, p = 0.034) and (C) group organization (H(2) = 125.3, p<0.0001) as their frequency in a population increased. The boxes show medians, quartiles, minima and maxima. Results significantly different from a relevant uniform network with no rule-breaking behavior (p<0.05 in Dunn's multiple comparison test for comparing each group with control) are designated with *.
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pone-0026652-g004: Effects of rule-breakers on intermediary-based networks.Individuals using rule-breaking strategy primarily affected (A) their own social position (H(2) = 213.18, p<0.0001), but also made an impact on the other aspects of the social system, affecting (B) the social position of others (H(2) = 6.79, p = 0.034) and (C) group organization (H(2) = 125.3, p<0.0001) as their frequency in a population increased. The boxes show medians, quartiles, minima and maxima. Results significantly different from a relevant uniform network with no rule-breaking behavior (p<0.05 in Dunn's multiple comparison test for comparing each group with control) are designated with *.

Mentions: When intermediary quality was the social convention guiding partner choice, individuals that broke the social rules of conduct affected their own success (Fig. 4A), the social success of convention-abiding majority (Fig. 4B), and the group organization as a whole (Fig. 4C). Even a single individual that affiliated randomly directly affected its own social position. Such direct consequences would then either cause such rule-breaking behavior to spread in, or disappear from, the population. However, since a single individual had no effect on others and did not affect the group-wide organization, breaking social rules would make it either more or less successful than the rest. This effect alone would then determine whether rule-breaking would become more prevalent. If rule-breaking becomes more common due to a positive effect on that individual, the initial advantage would persist while the success of convention-abiding individuals, as well as group-wide organization, would change. Thus, in the intermediary examples, breaking conventions primarily affected the individual itself, and only influenced other levels of a social system at higher frequency. Sufficient punishment (such as fitness loss from not connecting to successful intermediaries) would therefore prevent a single individual from changing the success of a group, whereas a reward to the rule-breaking individual could eventually bring down the entire system. This is consistent with observed mechanisms in animal and human societies that prevent rule-breaking, maintaining the functional structure of a group [46], [47].


Violating social norms when choosing friends: how rule-breakers affect social networks.

Hock K, Fefferman NH - PLoS ONE (2011)

Effects of rule-breakers on intermediary-based networks.Individuals using rule-breaking strategy primarily affected (A) their own social position (H(2) = 213.18, p<0.0001), but also made an impact on the other aspects of the social system, affecting (B) the social position of others (H(2) = 6.79, p = 0.034) and (C) group organization (H(2) = 125.3, p<0.0001) as their frequency in a population increased. The boxes show medians, quartiles, minima and maxima. Results significantly different from a relevant uniform network with no rule-breaking behavior (p<0.05 in Dunn's multiple comparison test for comparing each group with control) are designated with *.
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3198795&req=5

pone-0026652-g004: Effects of rule-breakers on intermediary-based networks.Individuals using rule-breaking strategy primarily affected (A) their own social position (H(2) = 213.18, p<0.0001), but also made an impact on the other aspects of the social system, affecting (B) the social position of others (H(2) = 6.79, p = 0.034) and (C) group organization (H(2) = 125.3, p<0.0001) as their frequency in a population increased. The boxes show medians, quartiles, minima and maxima. Results significantly different from a relevant uniform network with no rule-breaking behavior (p<0.05 in Dunn's multiple comparison test for comparing each group with control) are designated with *.
Mentions: When intermediary quality was the social convention guiding partner choice, individuals that broke the social rules of conduct affected their own success (Fig. 4A), the social success of convention-abiding majority (Fig. 4B), and the group organization as a whole (Fig. 4C). Even a single individual that affiliated randomly directly affected its own social position. Such direct consequences would then either cause such rule-breaking behavior to spread in, or disappear from, the population. However, since a single individual had no effect on others and did not affect the group-wide organization, breaking social rules would make it either more or less successful than the rest. This effect alone would then determine whether rule-breaking would become more prevalent. If rule-breaking becomes more common due to a positive effect on that individual, the initial advantage would persist while the success of convention-abiding individuals, as well as group-wide organization, would change. Thus, in the intermediary examples, breaking conventions primarily affected the individual itself, and only influenced other levels of a social system at higher frequency. Sufficient punishment (such as fitness loss from not connecting to successful intermediaries) would therefore prevent a single individual from changing the success of a group, whereas a reward to the rule-breaking individual could eventually bring down the entire system. This is consistent with observed mechanisms in animal and human societies that prevent rule-breaking, maintaining the functional structure of a group [46], [47].

Bottom Line: Using dynamic, self-organizing social network models we demonstrate that defying conventions in a social system can affect multiple levels of social and organizational success independently.Such actions primarily affect actors' own positions within the network, but individuals can also affect the overall structure of a network even without immediately affecting themselves or others.These results indicate that defying the established social norms can help individuals to change the properties of a social system via seemingly neutral behaviors, highlighting the power of rule-breaking behavior to transform convention-based societies, even before direct impacts on individuals can be measured.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Ecology, Evolution & Natural Resources, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States of America. hock@aesop.rutgers.edu

ABSTRACT
Social networks rely on basic rules of conduct to yield functioning societies in both human and animal populations. As individuals follow established rules, their behavioral decisions shape the social network and give it structure. Using dynamic, self-organizing social network models we demonstrate that defying conventions in a social system can affect multiple levels of social and organizational success independently. Such actions primarily affect actors' own positions within the network, but individuals can also affect the overall structure of a network even without immediately affecting themselves or others. These results indicate that defying the established social norms can help individuals to change the properties of a social system via seemingly neutral behaviors, highlighting the power of rule-breaking behavior to transform convention-based societies, even before direct impacts on individuals can be measured.

Show MeSH