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Altruism in networks: the effect of connections

Curry, Oliver and Dunbar, R. I. M. (2011) Altruism in networks: the effect of connections. Biology Letters, 7 (5). pp. 651-653. ISSN 1744-9561

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Why are individuals altruistic to their friends? Theory suggests that individual, relationship and network factors will all influence the levels of altruism; but to date, the effects of social network structure have received relatively little attention. The present study uses a novel correlational design to test the prediction that an individual will be more altruistic to friends who are well-connected to the individual's other friends. The result shows that, as predicted, even when controlling for a range of individual and relationship factors, the network factor (number of connections) makes a significant contribution to altruism, thus showing that individuals are more likely to be altruistic to better-connected members of their social networks. The implications of incorporating network structure into studies of altruism are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 The Royal Society
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Sets: Research centres and groups > Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS)
Research centres and groups > Darwin@LSE
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2013 18:15

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