We combine cell phone data with survey responses to show that a person’s social signature, as we call the pattern of their interactions with different friends and family members, is remarkably robust. People focus a high proportion of their communication efforts on a small number of individuals, and this behavior persists even when there are changes in the identity of the individuals involved. Although social signatures vary between individuals, a given individual appears to retain a specific social signature over time. Our results are likely to reflect limitations in the ability of humans to maintain many emotionally close relationships, both because of limited time and because the emotional “capital” that individuals can allocate between family members and friends is finite.
Persistence of social signatures in human communication
Jari Saramäki, E. A. Leicht, Eduardo López, Sam G. B. Roberts, Felix Reed-Tsochas, and Robin I. M. Dunbar