ResearchPad - sociolinguistics https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Modeling competitive evolution of multiple languages]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7854 Increasing evidence demonstrates that in many places language coexistence has become ubiquitous and essential for supporting language and cultural diversity and associated with its financial and economic benefits. The competitive evolution among multiple languages determines the evolution outcome, either coexistence, or decline, or extinction. Here, we extend the Abrams-Strogatz model of language competition to multiple languages and then validate it by analyzing the behavioral transitions of language usage over the recent several decades in Singapore and Hong Kong. In each case, we estimate from data the model parameters that measure each language utility for its speakers and the strength of two biases, the majority preference for their language, and the minority aversion to it. The values of these two biases decide which language is the fastest growing in the competition and what would be the stable state of the system. We also study the system convergence time to stable states and discover the existence of tipping points with multiple attractors. Moreover, the critical slowdown of convergence to the stable fractions of language users appears near and peaks at the tipping points, signaling when the system approaches them. Our analysis furthers our understanding of evolution of various languages and the role of tipping points in behavioral transitions. These insights may help to protect languages from extinction and retain the language and cultural diversity.

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<![CDATA[The geographic evolution of political cleavages in Switzerland: A network approach to assessing levels and dynamics of polarization between local populations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c24019bd5eed0c48409d5ba

Scholarly studies and common accounts of national politics enjoy pointing out the resilience of ideological divides among populations. Building on the image of political cleavages and geographic polarization, the regionalization of politics has become a truism across Northern democracies. Left unquestioned, this geography plays a central role in shaping electoral and referendum campaigns. In Europe and North America, observers identify recurring patterns dividing local populations during national votes. While much research describes those patterns in relation to ethnicity, religious affiliation, historic legacy and party affiliation, current approaches in political research lack the capacity to measure their evolution over time or other vote subsets. This article introduces “Dyadic Agreement Modeling” (DyAM), a transdisciplinary method to assess the evolution of geographic cleavages in vote outcomes by implementing a metric of agreement/disagreement through Network Analysis. Unlike existing approaches, DyAM offers a stable measure for political agreement and disagreement—accounting for chance, statistically robust and remaining structurally independent from the number of entries and missing data. The method opens up to a range of statistical, structural and visual tools specific to Network Analysis and its usage across disciplines. In order to illustrate DyAM, I use more than 680,000 municipal outcomes from Swiss federal popular votes and assess the evolution of political cleavages across local populations since 1981. Results suggest that political congruence between Swiss local populations increased in the last forty years, while regional political factions and linguistic alignments have lost their salience to new divides. I discuss how choices about input parameters and data subsets nuance findings, and consider confounding factors that may influence conclusions over the dynamic equilibrium of national politics and the strengthening effect of globalization on democratic institutions.

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<![CDATA[Emergence of linguistic conventions in multi-agent reinforcement learning]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c09944fd5eed0c4842ae9e0

Recently, emergence of signaling conventions, among which language is a prime example, draws a considerable interdisciplinary interest ranging from game theory, to robotics to evolutionary linguistics. Such a wide spectrum of research is based on much different assumptions and methodologies, but complexity of the problem precludes formulation of a unifying and commonly accepted explanation. We examine formation of signaling conventions in a framework of a multi-agent reinforcement learning model. When the network of interactions between agents is a complete graph or a sufficiently dense random graph, a global consensus is typically reached with the emerging language being a nearly unique object-word mapping or containing some synonyms and homonyms. On finite-dimensional lattices, the model gets trapped in disordered configurations with a local consensus only. Such a trapping can be avoided by introducing a population renewal, which in the presence of superlinear reinforcement restores an ordinary surface-tension driven coarsening and considerably enhances formation of efficient signaling.

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<![CDATA[Gender, Culture, and Sex-Typed Cognitive Abilities]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9e3ab0ee8fa60b6a36b

Although gender differences in cognitive abilities are frequently reported, the magnitude of these differences and whether they hold practical significance in the educational outcomes of boys and girls is highly debated. Furthermore, when gender gaps in reading, mathematics and science literacy are reported they are often attributed to innate, biological differences rather than social and cultural factors. Cross-cultural evidence may contribute to this debate, and this study reports national gender differences in reading, mathematics and science literacy from 65 nations participating in the 2009 round of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Consistently across all nations, girls outperform boys in reading literacy, d = −.44. Boys outperform girls in mathematics in the USA, d = .22 and across OECD nations, d = .13. For science literacy, while the USA showed the largest gender difference across all OECD nations, d = .14, gender differences across OECD nations were non-significant, and a small female advantage was found for non-OECD nations, d = −.09. Across all three domains, these differences were more pronounced at both tails of the distribution for low- and high-achievers. Considerable cross-cultural variability was also observed, and national gender differences were correlated with gender equity measures, economic prosperity, and Hofstede’s cultural dimension of power distance. Educational and societal implications of such gender gaps are addressed, as well as the mechanisms by which gender differences in cognitive abilities are culturally mediated.

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<![CDATA[Does Speaking Two Dialects in Daily Life Affect Executive Functions? An Event-Related Potential Study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db25ab0ee8fa60bd028b

Whether using two languages enhances executive functions is a matter of debate. Here, we take a novel perspective to examine the bilingual advantage hypothesis by comparing bi-dialect with mono-dialect speakers’ performance on a non-linguistic task that requires executive control. Two groups of native Chinese speakers, one speaking only the standard Chinese Mandarin and the other also speaking the Southern-Min dialect, which differs from the standard Chinese Mandarin primarily in phonology, performed a classic Flanker task. Behavioural results showed no difference between the two groups, but event-related potentials recorded simultaneously revealed a number of differences, including an earlier P2 effect in the bi-dialect as compared to the mono-dialect group, suggesting that the two groups engage different underlying neural processes. Despite differences in the early ERP component, no between-group differences in the magnitude of the Flanker effects, which is an index of conflict resolution, were observed in the N2 component. Therefore, these findings suggest that speaking two dialects of one language does not enhance executive functions. Implications of the current findings for the bilingual advantage hypothesis are discussed.

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<![CDATA[Metaphors We Think With: The Role of Metaphor in Reasoning]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db3eab0ee8fa60bd5e94

The way we talk about complex and abstract ideas is suffused with metaphor. In five experiments, we explore how these metaphors influence the way that we reason about complex issues and forage for further information about them. We find that even the subtlest instantiation of a metaphor (via a single word) can have a powerful influence over how people attempt to solve social problems like crime and how they gather information to make “well-informed” decisions. Interestingly, we find that the influence of the metaphorical framing effect is covert: people do not recognize metaphors as influential in their decisions; instead they point to more “substantive” (often numerical) information as the motivation for their problem-solving decision. Metaphors in language appear to instantiate frame-consistent knowledge structures and invite structurally consistent inferences. Far from being mere rhetorical flourishes, metaphors have profound influences on how we conceptualize and act with respect to important societal issues. We find that exposure to even a single metaphor can induce substantial differences in opinion about how to solve social problems: differences that are larger, for example, than pre-existing differences in opinion between Democrats and Republicans.

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<![CDATA[Cultural Phylogenetics of the Tupi Language Family in Lowland South America]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dafcab0ee8fa60bc52ae

Background

Recent advances in automated assessment of basic vocabulary lists allow the construction of linguistic phylogenies useful for tracing dynamics of human population expansions, reconstructing ancestral cultures, and modeling transition rates of cultural traits over time.

Methods

Here we investigate the Tupi expansion, a widely-dispersed language family in lowland South America, with a distance-based phylogeny based on 40-word vocabulary lists from 48 languages. We coded 11 cultural traits across the diverse Tupi family including traditional warfare patterns, post-marital residence, corporate structure, community size, paternity beliefs, sibling terminology, presence of canoes, tattooing, shamanism, men's houses, and lip plugs.

Results/Discussion

The linguistic phylogeny supports a Tupi homeland in west-central Brazil with subsequent major expansions across much of lowland South America. Consistently, ancestral reconstructions of cultural traits over the linguistic phylogeny suggest that social complexity has tended to decline through time, most notably in the independent emergence of several nomadic hunter-gatherer societies. Estimated rates of cultural change across the Tupi expansion are on the order of only a few changes per 10,000 years, in accord with previous cultural phylogenetic results in other language families around the world, and indicate a conservative nature to much of human culture.

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<![CDATA[A Phylogenetic Comparative Study of Bantu Kinship Terminology Finds Limited Support for Its Co-Evolution with Social Organisation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf6ab0ee8fa60bc2f11

The classification of kin into structured groups is a diverse phenomenon which is ubiquitous in human culture. For populations which are organized into large agropastoral groupings of sedentary residence but not governed within the context of a centralised state, such as our study sample of 83 historical Bantu-speaking groups of sub-Saharan Africa, cultural kinship norms guide all aspects of everyday life and social organization. Such rules operate in part through the use of differing terminological referential systems of familial organization. Although the cross-cultural study of kinship terminology was foundational in Anthropology, few modern studies have made use of statistical advances to further our sparse understanding of the structuring and diversification of terminological systems of kinship over time. In this study we use Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods of phylogenetic comparison to investigate the evolution of Bantu kinship terminology and reconstruct the ancestral state and diversification of cousin terminology in this family of sub-Saharan ethnolinguistic groups. Using a phylogenetic tree of Bantu languages, we then test the prominent hypothesis that structured variation in systems of cousin terminology has co-evolved alongside adaptive change in patterns of descent organization, as well as rules of residence. We find limited support for this hypothesis, and argue that the shaping of systems of kinship terminology is a multifactorial process, concluding with possible avenues of future research.

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<![CDATA[Does Grammatical Structure Accelerate Number Word Learning? Evidence from Learners of Dual and Non-Dual Dialects of Slovenian]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da0aab0ee8fa60b774ed

How does linguistic structure affect children’s acquisition of early number word meanings? Previous studies have tested this question by comparing how children learning languages with different grammatical representations of number learn the meanings of labels for small numbers, like 1, 2, and 3. For example, children who acquire a language with singular-plural marking, like English, are faster to learn the word for 1 than children learning a language that lacks the singular-plural distinction, perhaps because the word for 1 is always used in singular contexts, highlighting its meaning. These studies are problematic, however, because reported differences in number word learning may be due to unmeasured cross-cultural differences rather than specific linguistic differences. To address this problem, we investigated number word learning in four groups of children from a single culture who spoke different dialects of the same language that differed chiefly with respect to how they grammatically mark number. We found that learning a dialect which features “dual” morphology (marking of pairs) accelerated children’s acquisition of the number word two relative to learning a “non-dual” dialect of the same language.

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<![CDATA[An ERP Study of Good Production vis-à-vis Poor Perception of Tones in Cantonese: Implications for Top-Down Speech Processing]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db1aab0ee8fa60bcde64

This study investigated a theoretically challenging dissociation between good production and poor perception of tones among neurologically unimpaired native speakers of Cantonese. The dissociation is referred to as the near-merger phenomenon in sociolinguistic studies of sound change. In a passive oddball paradigm, lexical and nonlexical syllables of the T1/T6 and T4/T6 contrasts were presented to elicit the mismatch negativity (MMN) and P3a from two groups of participants, those who could produce and distinguish all tones in the language (Control) and those who could produce all tones but specifically failed to distinguish between T4 and T6 in perception (Dissociation). The presence of MMN to T1/T6 and null response to T4/T6 of lexical syllables in the dissociation group confirmed the near-merger phenomenon. The observation that the control participants exhibited a statistically reliable MMN to lexical syllables of T1/T6, weaker responses to nonlexical syllables of T1/T6 and lexical syllables of T4/T6, and finally null response to nonlexical syllables of T4/T6, suggests the involvement of top-down processing in speech perception. Furthermore, the stronger P3a response of the control group, compared with the dissociation group in the same experimental conditions, may be taken to indicate higher cognitive capability in attention switching, auditory attention or memory in the control participants. This cognitive difference, together with our speculation that constant top-down predictions without complete bottom-up analysis of acoustic signals in speech recognition may reduce one’s sensitivity to small acoustic contrasts, account for the occurrence of dissociation in some individuals but not others.

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<![CDATA[North-American Norms for Name Disagreement: Pictorial Stimuli Naming Discrepancies]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da18ab0ee8fa60b7befd

Pictorial stimuli are commonly used by scientists to explore central processes; including memory, attention, and language. Pictures that have been collected and put into sets for these purposes often contain visual ambiguities that lead to name disagreement amongst subjects. In the present work, we propose new norms which reflect these sources of name disagreement, and we apply this method to two sets of pictures: the Snodgrass and Vanderwart (S&V) set and the Bank of Standardized Stimuli (BOSS). Naming responses of the presented pictures were classified within response categories based on whether they were correct, incorrect, or equivocal. To characterize the naming strategy where an alternative name was being used, responses were further divided into different sub-categories that reflected various sources of name disagreement. Naming strategies were also compared across the two sets of stimuli. Results showed that the pictures of the S&V set and the BOSS were more likely to elicit alternative specific and equivocal names, respectively. It was also found that the use of incorrect names was not significantly different across stimulus sets but that errors were more likely caused by visual ambiguity in the S&V set and by a misuse of names in the BOSS. Norms for name disagreement presented in this paper are useful for subsequent research for their categorization and elucidation of name disagreement that occurs when choosing visual stimuli from one or both stimulus sets. The sources of disagreement should be examined carefully as they help to provide an explanation of errors and inconsistencies of many concepts during picture naming tasks.

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<![CDATA[Do We Notice when Communication Goes Awry? An Investigation of People's Sensitivity to Coherence in Spontaneous Conversation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9ddab0ee8fa60b686ba

In the dominant theoretical framework, human communication is modeled as the faithful transmission of information. This implies that when people are involved in communicational exchanges, they should be sensitive to the success with which information is transmitted, easily detecting when conversations lack coherence. The expectation that humans are good at detecting conversational incoherence is in line with common intuition, but there are several reasons to suspect that it might be unrealistic. First, similar intuitions have been shown to be unrealistic for a number of psychological processes. Second, faithful information transmission may conflict with other conversational goals. Third, mechanisms supporting information transmission may themselves lead to cases of incoherence being missed. To ascertain the extent to which people are insensitive to patches of serious conversational incoherence, we generated such patches in the laboratory by repeatedly crossing two unrelated conversations. Across two studies, involving both narrowly and broadly focused conversations, between 27% and 42% of the conversants did not notice that their conversations had been crossed. The results of these studies suggest that it may indeed be unrealistic to model spontaneous conversation as faithful information transmission. Rather, our results are more consistent with models of communication that view it as involving noisy and error-prone inferential processes, serving multiple independent goals.

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<![CDATA[Co-Variation of Tonality in the Music and Speech of Different Cultures]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da89ab0ee8fa60b9d428

Whereas the use of discrete pitch intervals is characteristic of most musical traditions, the size of the intervals and the way in which they are used is culturally specific. Here we examine the hypothesis that these differences arise because of a link between the tonal characteristics of a culture's music and its speech. We tested this idea by comparing pitch intervals in the traditional music of three tone language cultures (Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese) and three non-tone language cultures (American, French and German) with pitch intervals between voiced speech segments. Changes in pitch direction occur more frequently and pitch intervals are larger in the music of tone compared to non-tone language cultures. More frequent changes in pitch direction and larger pitch intervals are also apparent in the speech of tone compared to non-tone language cultures. These observations suggest that the different tonal preferences apparent in music across cultures are closely related to the differences in the tonal characteristics of voiced speech.

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<![CDATA[A Practical Approach to Language Complexity: A Wikipedia Case Study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da0dab0ee8fa60b785b3

In this paper we present statistical analysis of English texts from Wikipedia. We try to address the issue of language complexity empirically by comparing the simple English Wikipedia (Simple) to comparable samples of the main English Wikipedia (Main). Simple is supposed to use a more simplified language with a limited vocabulary, and editors are explicitly requested to follow this guideline, yet in practice the vocabulary richness of both samples are at the same level. Detailed analysis of longer units (n-grams of words and part of speech tags) shows that the language of Simple is less complex than that of Main primarily due to the use of shorter sentences, as opposed to drastically simplified syntax or vocabulary. Comparing the two language varieties by the Gunning readability index supports this conclusion. We also report on the topical dependence of language complexity, that is, that the language is more advanced in conceptual articles compared to person-based (biographical) and object-based articles. Finally, we investigate the relation between conflict and language complexity by analyzing the content of the talk pages associated to controversial and peacefully developing articles, concluding that controversy has the effect of reducing language complexity.

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<![CDATA[A Reassessment of the Impact of European Contact on the Structure of Native American Genetic Diversity]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da0bab0ee8fa60b7782d

Our current understanding of pre-Columbian history in the Americas rests in part on several trends identified in recent genetic studies. The goal of this study is to reexamine these trends in light of the impact of post-Columbian admixture and the methods used to study admixture. The previously-published data consist of 645 autosomal microsatellite genotypes from 1046 individuals in 63 populations. We used STRUCTURE to estimate ancestry proportions and tested the sensitivity of these estimates to the choice of the number of clusters, K. We used partial correlation analyses to examine the relationship between gene diversity and geographic distance from Beringia, controlling for non-Native American ancestry (from Africa, Europe and East Asia), and taking into account alternative paths of migration. Principal component analysis and multidimensional scaling were used to investigate the relationships between Andean and non-Andean populations and to explore gene-language correspondence. We found that 1) European and East Asian ancestry estimates decline as K increases, especially in Native Canadian populations, 2) a north-south decline in gene diversity is driven by low diversity in Amazonian and Paraguayan populations, not serial founder effects from Beringia, 3) controlling for non-Native American ancestry, populations in the Andes and Mesoamerica have higher gene diversity than populations in other regions, and 4) patterns of genetic and linguistic diversity are poorly correlated. We conclude that patterns of diversity previously attributed to pre-Columbian processes may in part reflect post-Columbian admixture and the choice of K in STRUCTURE analyses. Accounting for admixture, the pattern of diversity is inconsistent with a north-south founder effect process, though the genetic similarities between Mesoamerican and Andean populations are consistent with rapid dispersal along the western coast of the Americas. Further, even setting aside the disruptive effects of European contact, gene-language congruence is unlikely to have ever existed at the geographic scale analyzed here.

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<![CDATA[You Know What It Is: Learning Words through Listening to Hip-Hop]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa0ab0ee8fa60ba5ab9

Music listeners have difficulty correctly understanding and remembering song lyrics. However, results from the present study support the hypothesis that young adults can learn African-American English (AAE) vocabulary from listening to hip-hop music. Non-African-American participants first gave free-response definitions to AAE vocabulary items, after which they answered demographic questions as well as questions addressing their social networks, their musical preferences, and their knowledge of popular culture. Results from the survey show a positive association between the number of hip-hop artists listened to and AAE comprehension vocabulary scores. Additionally, participants were more likely to know an AAE vocabulary item if the hip-hop artists they listen to use the word in their song lyrics. Together, these results suggest that young adults can acquire vocabulary through exposure to hip-hop music, a finding relevant for research on vocabulary acquisition, the construction of adolescent and adult identities, and the adoption of lexical innovations.

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<![CDATA[Crowdsourcing Dialect Characterization through Twitter]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da76ab0ee8fa60b96d3c

We perform a large-scale analysis of language diatopic variation using geotagged microblogging datasets. By collecting all Twitter messages written in Spanish over more than two years, we build a corpus from which a carefully selected list of concepts allows us to characterize Spanish varieties on a global scale. A cluster analysis proves the existence of well defined macroregions sharing common lexical properties. Remarkably enough, we find that Spanish language is split into two superdialects, namely, an urban speech used across major American and Spanish citites and a diverse form that encompasses rural areas and small towns. The latter can be further clustered into smaller varieties with a stronger regional character.

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<![CDATA[Population Size Predicts Lexical Diversity, but so Does the Mean Sea Level – Why It Is Important to Correctly Account for the Structure of Temporal Data]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da92ab0ee8fa60ba08ed

In order to demonstrate why it is important to correctly account for the (serial dependent) structure of temporal data, we document an apparently spectacular relationship between population size and lexical diversity: for five out of seven investigated languages, there is a strong relationship between population size and lexical diversity of the primary language in this country. We show that this relationship is the result of a misspecified model that does not consider the temporal aspect of the data by presenting a similar but nonsensical relationship between the global annual mean sea level and lexical diversity. Given the fact that in the recent past, several studies were published that present surprising links between different economic, cultural, political and (socio-)demographical variables on the one hand and cultural or linguistic characteristics on the other hand, but seem to suffer from exactly this problem, we explain the cause of the misspecification and show that it has profound consequences. We demonstrate how simple transformation of the time series can often solve problems of this type and argue that the evaluation of the plausibility of a relationship is important in this context. We hope that our paper will help both researchers and reviewers to understand why it is important to use special models for the analysis of data with a natural temporal ordering.

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<![CDATA[The Electrophysiological Underpinnings of Processing Gender Stereotypes in Language]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dad2ab0ee8fa60bb68e7

Despite the widely documented influence of gender stereotypes on social behaviour, little is known about the electrophysiological substrates engaged in the processing of such information when conveyed by language. Using event-related brain potentials (ERPs), we examined the brain response to third-person pronouns (lei “she” and lui “he”) that were implicitly primed by definitional (passeggeraFEM “passenger”, pensionatoMASC “pensioner”), or stereotypical antecedents (insegnante “teacher”, conducente “driver”). An N400-like effect on the pronoun emerged when it was preceded by a definitionally incongruent prime (passeggeraFEMlui; pensionatoMASClei), and a stereotypically incongruent prime for masculine pronouns only (insegnante – lui). In addition, a P300-like effect was found when the pronoun was preceded by definitionally incongruent primes. However, this effect was observed for female, but not male participants. Overall, these results provide further evidence for on-line effects of stereotypical gender in language comprehension. Importantly, our results also suggest a gender stereotype asymmetry in that male and female stereotypes affected the processing of pronouns differently.

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<![CDATA[Identifying Gender-Preferred Communication Styles within Online Cancer Communities: A Retrospective, Longitudinal Analysis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daddab0ee8fa60bba835

Background

The goal of this research is to determine if different gender-preferred social styles can be observed within the user interactions at an online cancer community. To achieve this goal, we identify and measure variables that pertain to each gender-specific social style.

Methods and Findings

We perform social network and statistical analysis on the communication flow of 8,388 members at six different cancer forums over eight years. Kruskal-Wallis tests were conducted to measure the difference between the number of intimate (and highly intimate) dyads, relationship length, and number of communications. We determine that two patients are more likely to form an intimate bond on a gender-specific cancer forum (ovarian P = <0.0001, breast P = 0.0089, prostate P = 0.0021). Two female patients are more likely to form a highly intimate bond on a female-specific cancer forum (Ovarian P<0.0001, Breast P<0.01). Typically a male patient communicates with more members than a female patient (Ovarian forum P = 0.0406, Breast forum P = 0.0013). A relationship between two patients is longer on the gender-specific cancer forums than a connection between two members not identified as patients (ovarian forum P = 0.00406, breast forum P = 0.00013, prostate forum P = .0.0003).

Conclusion

The high level of interconnectedness among the prostate patients supports the hypothesis that men prefer to socialize in large, interconnected, less-intimate groups. A female patient is more likely to form a highly intimate connection with another female patient; this finding is consistent with the hypothesis that woman prefer fewer, more intimate connections. The relationships of same-gender cancer patients last longer than other relationships; this finding demonstrates homophily within these online communities. Our findings regarding online communication preferences are in agreement with research findings from person-to-person communication preference studies. These findings should be considered when designing online communities as well as designing and evaluating psychosocial and educational interventions for cancer patients.

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