Social networks stay small despite social networking

When adding new friends to social circles, people unconsciously bump others out, keeping social circles small and finite.


Even though digital social networks offer instant, infinite connections to other people, people still focus their communication efforts on a small, finite group of close friends or family. The communication patterns, tracked with phone call and survey data in 24 students transitioning to work or university, suggest that when individuals add a few people to their social network, they unconsciously bump some from it, researchers report January 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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