the 6th Workshop on Internet & Network Economics

Positive and Negative Relationships in Social Networks

Jon Kleinberg:


The social networks in many settings encode a mixture of positive (friendly) and negative (antagonistic) relationships, but the bulk of social network research has traditionally focused primarily on the positive interpretations of the links. We discuss a set of models for how positive and negative relationships interact within a social network, beginning with a body of research known as structural balance theory that dates back to work in social psychology from the 1940s. Structural balance has traditionally been a static theory, but we describe recent work that adds a natural dynamic aspect to the model, allowing relationships to change over time. We then describe some analysis of positive and negative relationships in data from on-line social networks, and we use this data to evaluate and extend the underlying theories. We find that the classical theories capture certain of the underlying effects, but that they are also at odds with several of the fundamental phenomena we observe -- particularly related to the evolving, directed nature of the networks.

The talk draws on joint work with Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Dan Huttenlocher, Bobby Kleinberg, Gueorgi Kossinets, Lillian Lee, Jure Leskovec, Seth Marvel, and Steve Strogatz.