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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 popularity-based networks.Individuals using rule-breaking strategy did not significantly affect either (A) their own social position (H(2) = 2.99, p = 0.22) or (B) the social position of others (H(2) = 0.24, p = 0.89). However, as their presence in the population increased, the behavior of these individuals will start to make an impact, affecting (C) the overall group organization (H(2) = 284.55, p<0.0001) even though there is no concurrent measurable effect on the individual values. 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-g005: Effects of rule-breakers on popularity-based networks.Individuals using rule-breaking strategy did not significantly affect either (A) their own social position (H(2) = 2.99, p = 0.22) or (B) the social position of others (H(2) = 0.24, p = 0.89). However, as their presence in the population increased, the behavior of these individuals will start to make an impact, affecting (C) the overall group organization (H(2) = 284.55, p<0.0001) even though there is no concurrent measurable effect on the individual values. 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: Interestingly, in popularity-based networks rule-breaking individuals did not affect their own success (Fig. 5A) or the social success of others (Fig. 5B), but they did affect the overall group organization (Fig. 5C). As a single individual was not able to produce this effect, breaking the social rules of conduct would initially appear to be completely neutral to the social network and its constituents. Rule-breaking individuals would have the same success as if they abided by conventions, and the convention-abiding majority would not be affected. However, if rule-breaking behavior was then to increase in frequency (for example, due to chance in the absence of strong pressure either for or against it), the success of either rule-breaking or convention-abiding individuals themselves would still not change, but the structure of the group as a whole would. In these popularity-based networks, rule-breaking individuals were able to change the structure of a social network and the nature of how an entire social system works, achieving this without necessarily affecting any individual in particular. Despite their potentially global impact, it was only possible to gauge the true influence of these individuals on the network by taking into account the system-wide properties. If a specific network structure is essential for the community (for example, in hierarchies or other highly centralized network or organization where most individuals connect only to the few most popular individuals) a growing number of rule-breakers or dissenters could affect the success of the entire social group [16], [29].


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

Hock K, Fefferman NH - PLoS ONE (2011)

Effects of rule-breakers on popularity-based networks.Individuals using rule-breaking strategy did not significantly affect either (A) their own social position (H(2) = 2.99, p = 0.22) or (B) the social position of others (H(2) = 0.24, p = 0.89). However, as their presence in the population increased, the behavior of these individuals will start to make an impact, affecting (C) the overall group organization (H(2) = 284.55, p<0.0001) even though there is no concurrent measurable effect on the individual values. 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 *.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3198795&req=5

pone-0026652-g005: Effects of rule-breakers on popularity-based networks.Individuals using rule-breaking strategy did not significantly affect either (A) their own social position (H(2) = 2.99, p = 0.22) or (B) the social position of others (H(2) = 0.24, p = 0.89). However, as their presence in the population increased, the behavior of these individuals will start to make an impact, affecting (C) the overall group organization (H(2) = 284.55, p<0.0001) even though there is no concurrent measurable effect on the individual values. 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: Interestingly, in popularity-based networks rule-breaking individuals did not affect their own success (Fig. 5A) or the social success of others (Fig. 5B), but they did affect the overall group organization (Fig. 5C). As a single individual was not able to produce this effect, breaking the social rules of conduct would initially appear to be completely neutral to the social network and its constituents. Rule-breaking individuals would have the same success as if they abided by conventions, and the convention-abiding majority would not be affected. However, if rule-breaking behavior was then to increase in frequency (for example, due to chance in the absence of strong pressure either for or against it), the success of either rule-breaking or convention-abiding individuals themselves would still not change, but the structure of the group as a whole would. In these popularity-based networks, rule-breaking individuals were able to change the structure of a social network and the nature of how an entire social system works, achieving this without necessarily affecting any individual in particular. Despite their potentially global impact, it was only possible to gauge the true influence of these individuals on the network by taking into account the system-wide properties. If a specific network structure is essential for the community (for example, in hierarchies or other highly centralized network or organization where most individuals connect only to the few most popular individuals) a growing number of rule-breakers or dissenters could affect the success of the entire social group [16], [29].

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