The Coevolution of Networks and Political Attitudes

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David Lazer
Brian Rubineau
Carol Chetkovich
Nancy Katz
Michael Neblo
The Coevolution of Networks and Political Attitudes

How do attitudes and social affiliations coevolve? A long stream of research has focused on the relationship between attitudes and social affiliations. However, in most of this research the causal relationship between views and affiliations is difficult to discern definitively: Do people influence each other's views so that they converge over time or do they primarily affiliate (by choice or happenstance) with those of similar views? Here we use longitudinal attitudinal and whole network data collected at critical times (notably, at the inception of the system) to identify robustly the determinants of attitudes and affiliations. We find significant conformity tendencies: Individuals shift their political views toward the political views of their associates. This conformity is driven by social ties rather than task ties. We also find that political views are notably unimportant as a driver for the formation of relationships.

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The Coevolution of Networks and Political Attitudes David Lazer, Brian Rubineau, Carol Chetkovich, Nancy Katz, Michael Neblo Political Communication Vol. 27, Iss. 3, 201

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