Homophily (i.e., "love of the same") is the tendency of individuals to associate and bond with similar others. The presence of homophily has been discovered in a vast array of network studies. More than 100 studies that have observed homophily in some form or another and they establish that similarity breeds connection. These include age, gender, class, and organizational role.
This is often expressed in the adage "birds of a feather flock together".
Individuals in homophilic relationships share common characteristics (beliefs, values, education, etc.) that make communication and relationship formation easier. Homophily often leads to homogamy—marriage between people with similar characteristics.
Types of Homophily
In their original formulation of homophily, Lazarsfeld and Merton (1954) distinguished between status homophily and value homophily. Status homophily describes individuals with similar social status characteristics that are more likely to associate with each other than by chance. Value homophily refers to tendency to associate with others who think in similar ways, regardless of differences in status.
To test the relevance of homophily researchers have distinguished between baseline homophily and inbreeding homophily. The former is simply the amount of homophily that would be expected by chance and the second is the amount of homophily over and above this expected value.
The opposite of homophily is heterophily.
- McPherson, M., Smith-Lovin, L., & Cook, J. M. (2001). "Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks". Annual Review of Sociology. 27:415–444.
- Retica, Aaron (10 December 2006). "Homophily". New York Times.
- Lazarsfeld, P. F. and Merton, R. K. RONKEYLAF (1954). "Friendship as a Social Process: A Substantive and Methodological Analysis". In Freedom and Control in Modern Society, Morroe Berger, Theodore Abel, and Charles H. Page, eds. New York: Van Nostrand, 18–66.
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