“Negative Ties in Social Networks” by Dr. Alexander Isakov
Dr. Alexander Isakov
Yale Institute for Network Science
Negative (antagonistic, or enemy) connections have been of longstanding theoretical importance for social structure. In a population of almost 25,000 adults interacting face-to-face in isolated villages, we measured over 100,000 positive and 15,000 negative ties. Here, we show that negative ties exhibit many of the same structural characteristics as positive ties, including a skewed degree distribution, reciprocity, and degree assortativity. We then exploit this large sample to develop and enumerate a complete taxonomy of all possible triads consisting of the expanded relationship set. Consistent with balance theory, enemies of friends and friends of enemies tend to be enemies; but, in an important empirical refutation of classical balance theory, we find that “the enemy of my enemy is more likely to be my enemy”. We also explore higher-order (community-level) results. Thus, negative ties, though uncommon relative to positive ties, play an important role in social structure.