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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

5 things every business can do to drive brand loyalty

If you’re in any customer-centric role, you’ll likely be familiar with the Net Promoter Score (NPS) – one of the most popular tools for brands to measure their customer sentiment.

Catherine Anderson

Chief customer officer, Powershop Australia

What the modern gig economy is doing to customer experience

Most marketing theory was established in the context of stable employment relationships. From front-line staff to marketing strategists and brand managers, employees generally enjoyed job security with classic benefits such as superannuation plans, stable income streams, employment rights, training, sabbaticals and long-service leave.

Dr Chris Baumann

Associate professor, Macquarie University

The new data hierarchy

We are all digital lab rats spewing treasure troves of personal data wherever we go.

Gerry Murray

Research director, marketing and sales technology services, IDC

Thank you! That was useful to know.

Belia Adam

Why your best social marketing brand tool could be hiding in plain sight

Read more

Because you are missing the point of the term "disruption"

Sean

Uber for the truckies: How one Aussie startup is disrupting the freight industry

Read more

Absolutely agree with this ... Facebook doesn't care what adds they show. You report an add for fake news/scam and it just remains "open...

Quasi Carbon

Unilever CMO threatens Facebook, Google with digital advertising boycott

Read more

How to create Pinball game in 4 minshttps://youtu.be/S1bsp7del3M

Alex Atmavan

Rethinking gamification in marketing

Read more

True Local - one of the least credible review sites on the entire internet.

MyNameIsStomp

Former Virgin Mobile CMO and CEO joins oOh! as first customer chief

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in