Department Seminar by Marzieh Mussavi Rizi

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 10:00 am - 10:00 am EDT (GMT -04:00)

Please Note: This seminar will be given online.

Student seminar series

Marzieh Mussavi Rizi
PhD student in Biostatistics

Link to join seminar: Hosted on Microsoft Teams

Are Behaviors Contagious?

The idea that individuals exert “contagion effects” on one another through social ties and association has piqued the interest of social researchers for decades. In this vein, the analysis conducted on social networks by Christakis and Follower (2007) remains one of the most influential in that field. This study is famous for its conclusion suggesting that some behaviors such as obesity, smoking or happiness, are socially contagious. Christakis and Follower's analysis played an important role not only because of the methodology proposed, but also because its results generated extensive discussion and backlash. Indeed, many papers were put forward scrutinizing these results. One of the most important critiques was penned by Shalizi and Thomas (2011), which raised concern about the possibility that latent unmeasured confounders perpetuated the famous result. In this talk, I will review the famous paper of Christakis and Follower, and discuss the specifics of the critique made by Shalizi and Thomas. I will conclude by discussing how this set of events revealed the inherent challenges one faces in social network analysis.