Do we put a limit on our close social networks?

New UK study into the behaviour of individuals across various social practices shows we each have our own social signature

For leaders in the marketing industry, there’s no such thing as having too many friends in your social network. But a new study has shown that people inadvertently limit the number of close social contacts.

The persistence of social signatures in human communication study by researchers from a range of universities including the University of Oxford, University of Chester, UK and Aalto University, Finland found people often take a ‘one in, one out’ approach when forming a group of friends they consider to be in close contact with. Each individual's 'social signature' - the pattern of their interactions with different friends and family - varies but remains persistent despite the number of new friends they make.

“Although social communication is now easier than ever, it seems that our capacity for maintaining emotionally close relationships is finite,” said Felix Reed-Tsochas, James Martin Lecturer in Complex Systems at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. “While this number varies from person to person, what holds true in all cases is that at any point individuals are able to keep up close relationships with only a small number of people, so that new friendships come at the expense of ‘relegating’ existing friends.”

The study looked at patterns of communications between participants and their close friends/not so close friends. It found even the efficiencies of digital communication such as mobile phones didn’t alter an individual's ability to expand their close social network.

“This study used a novel combination of questionnaires and mobile phone data to show that people have a distinctive pattern of communicating with their family and friends, and that this pattern persists even people make new friends as they go to university or work,” said Dr Roberts, from the University of Chester’s Psychology Department.

“Our results are likely to reflect limitations in the ability of humans to maintain many emotionally close relationships, both because of limited time and because the emotional capital individuals can allocate between family members and friends is finite.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Marketing skills in a virtual world

It wasn’t so long ago that CMOs and marketers came to realise they were under-resourced in managing their rapidly expanding digital activities. In fact, many marketing departments are still today far from optimal resourcing levels, if not noticeably below.

Making Korean brands sexy

If you told someone in the 1980s that South Korean brands would one day supersede many Western and Japanese competitors for innovation, brand management and profitability, they would have declared you insane. But that is exactly what has happened.

Why good leadership starts with leading yourself

Many people first taste leadership when they receive a promotion and find themselves ‘leading’ a team. Over time, the team, and the leader’s responsibility, grows. But do they become better leaders?

Anthony Howard

Executive mentor and founder, The Confidere Group

Smartmobile phones have changed the human life greatly. Nowadays, more and morecompanies are providing best solution for smart mobile pho...

alva christi

In Pictures: 16 great iPhone app battles - Slideshow - CMO Australia

Read more

Interesting to see a big brand like Adobe getting involved in this space when interactive video tools already exist. Interlude's Treehous...

Nedd

Adobe's new interactive shoppable video experience

Read more

Both the elegance and the risk of misuse of NPS lay in its simplicity of collecting the "score". This is why, whilst individual companies...

Pete Nicholls

Against Net Promoter: A new way of interpreting the customer data deluge

Read more

iinet have gone from one on the best customer service providers to as they have grown just another frustrating Telco. As a customer of o...

Disillusioned

How voice analytics helps iiNet hear customer problems on its network

Read more

The interesting question is whether 'campaigns' is even a relevant term any longer. We seem to work in an environment of continuous, omni...

Geoff Brooks

Marketing skills in a virtual world - Customer and marketing relations - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in