Northwestern University

Wed 12:00 PM

WED@NICO SEMINAR: Adam Kleinbaum, Dartmouth College "Language Style Similarity and Friendship Networks"

Adam Kleinbaum

When: Wednesday, January 31, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  

Where: Chambers Hall, Lower Level, 600 Foster St, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Yasmeen Khan   847.491.2527

Group: Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO)

Category: Academic

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Adam Kleinbaum, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College


Language Style Similarity and Friendship Networks


This week's talk is co-sponsored by The Science of Networks in Communities (SONIC) research group.


Why do friendship networks form? Social scientists have documented multiple forces that shape social networks, perhaps foremost of which is homophily, the tendency of friends to be similar in gender, age, nationality, personality, body weight, or social class. This paper demonstrates in two studies that similarity in linguistic style is also associated with friendship and that the causal arrow points in both directions: linguistic similarity drives network tie formation and friends exhibit linguistic convergence over time. In the first study, we analyze the linguistic styles and the emerging friendship network in a complete cohort of 285 graduate students at an East Coast university. In the second study, we analyze a large-scale dataset of online reviews from, an online reviewing platform with social network functionality. Across both studies, we collected data in two waves, allowing us to study changes in both friendship networks and linguistic styles over time. Using the LIWC computational linguistic framework, we analyze the full text of students’ essays and of 1.7 million reviews by 159,651 Yelp reviewers. The results of these two studies consistently show that similarity in linguistic style increases the likelihood that a friendship forms and that friendship ties, in turn, induce a convergence in linguistic style. Finally, we show that these dual engines of homophily – selection and convergence – have profound consequences: in our empirical data and in a simulation study, we show that these processes contribute to societal fragmentation.

Speaker Bio:

Adam Kleinbaum is an Associate Professor in the Strategy and Management area at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and is co-founder of the Dartmouth Interdisciplinary Network Research (DINR) Group. He received both his D.B.A and undergraduate degree from Harvard, where he served as a post-doctoral fellow for the Harvard Business School. Since then, his work has focused on examining the antecedents and evolution of social networks in organizations to understand what structures promote both individual and organizational success. His research has been published in various management and business journals, as well as in several major news outlets.

About the Speaker Series:

Wednesdays@NICO is a vibrant weekly seminar series focusing broadly on the topics of complex systems and data science. It brings together attendees ranging from graduate students to senior faculty who span all of the schools across Northwestern, from applied math to sociology to biology and every discipline in-between.

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