Annenberg Networks Network speaker series: New frontiers of network science

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

3:30 p.m. 4:30 p.m. PT

Wallis Annenberg Hall (ANN), Sheindlin Forum (106)

Join Dr. Douglas Guilbeault from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business for a talk on new frontiers of network science. 

The standard measure of distance in social networks – average shortest path length – assumes a model of “simple” contagion, in which people only need exposure to influence from one peer to adopt the contagion. However, many social phenomena are “complex” contagions, for which people need exposure to multiple peers before they adopt. In this talk, Guilbeault argues that the classical measure of path length fails to define network connectedness and node centrality for complex contagions. Guilbeault provides theoretical and empirical evidence that centrality measures and seeding strategies based on the classical definition of path length frequently misidentify the network features that are most effective for spreading complex contagions. To address these issues, Guilbeault introduces novel measures of complex path length and complex centrality, which significantly improve the capacity to identify the network structures and central individuals best suited for spreading complex contagions. Guilbeault validates this theory using empirical data on the spread of a microfinance program in 43 rural Indian villages. Implications for communication-based behavior change strategies – and for human cultural evolution more broadly – are discussed. For further reading on this topic, click PDF icon here