Why understanding multiplex social network structuring processes will help us better understand the evolution of human behavior

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March 2019
Paper author(s): 
Curtis Atkisson
Piotr J. Górski
Matthew O. Jackson
Janusz A. Hołyst
Raissa M. D’Souza
Poverty - Inequality - Aid Effectiveness

Anthropologists have long appreciated that single-layer networks are insufficient descriptions of human interactions—individuals are embedded in complex networks with dependencies.1 One debate explicitly about this surrounds food sharing. Some argue that failing to find reciprocal food sharing means that some process other than reciprocity must be occurring, whereas others argue for models that allow reciprocity to span domains.2 The analysis of multi-dimensional social networks has recently garnered the attention of the mathematics and physics communities.3 Multilayer networks are ubiquitous and have consequences, so processes giving rise to them are important social phenomena. Recent models of these processes show how ignoring layer interdependencies can lead one to miss why a layer formed the way it did, and/or draw erroneous conclusions. Understanding the structuring processes that underlie multiplex networks will help understand increasingly rich datasets, which give better, richer, and more accurate pictures of social interactions.


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