Facebook app to study social relationships of incoming freshmen

How do friendship networks change over time? Do social relationships impact one’s behavior? Assistant professor Erin Krupka was recently awarded a $12,971 grant from UM’s Office of the Vice President for Research to study those questions. The goal of the research is to collect new stylized facts about friendship networks, behaviors, and preferences and examine the role social networks play in shaping behaviors.

This fall, incoming UM freshmen will have a chance to participate in Krupka’s project, "Mirror Mirror on the Network: Peer Selection and Endogenous Preferences.” An informational email sent to all incoming freshman will describe the research and how students can participate. The project will develop a Facebook application to gather general personal information and friend lists. Among other things, the app will be used to recruit students to participate in an online study. During the online study stage, students will take part in several incentivized decision-making tasks where they can earn money based on their decisions and the decisions of other subjects.

“There is ample evidence that the behaviors of individuals in one’s social network are positively correlated with one’s own behavior,” said Krupka. “However, these studies have only looked at this correlation at a particular point in time. In our study we use a longitudinal design, in which we follow participants for their first academic year at the university.”

The grant also serves as seed money to prepare groundwork for submitting a future grant request to the National Science Foundation.

Posted on Tuesday, May 28, 2013