Get access
Advertisement

Inference for influence over multiple degrees of separation on a social network

Authors

  • Tyler J. VanderWeele

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, U.S.A.
    2. Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, U.S.A.
    • Correspondence to: Tyler J. VanderWeele, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue Kresge Building Boston, MA 02115, U.S.A.

      E-mail: tvanderw@hsph.harvard.edu

    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

States and behaviors of different individuals are expected to be correlated across a social network. Christakis and Fowler have proposed a ‘three degrees of influence rule’ to characterize the extent of such dependence. In this paper, we discuss three distinct interpretations of such a rule, one involving only associations (which is the interpretation for which Christakis and Fowler give evidence), one involving actual causation, generally referred to as contagion or social influence, and one involving direct effects. We discuss analytic procedures appropriate for assessing evidence for each possible interpretation and the increasingly difficult methodological challenges present in each interpretation. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary