Want to minimize gossip? Have 6 friends

November 2, 2007

clipped from www.physorg.com

The group, which includes scientists from institutions in Germany, Brazil, and Switzerland, developed a model for the spread of gossip among students at an American school.
The model uses survey data from more than 90,000 students in 84 schools who were asked about other students they had personal contact with, such as eating lunch or studying. It introduces concrete quantities that define how widely and quickly gossip can spread among students, a segment of the population in which gossip is particularly prevalent.
So if a student has too few or too many friends, the danger of being the subject of a piece of gossip goes up. The optimal number depends on the size of the social network: the larger the network, the larger the optimal number.
When using the student-survey data, the model states that the optimal number of friends a student should have in order to minimize gossip spreading is about six.
“Spreading gossip in social networks” Phys. Rev. E 76, 036117 (2007)
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