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Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 4543563, 12 pages
Research Article

Influence of Personal Preferences on Link Dynamics in Social Networks

1Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 8th Street, Troy, NY 12180, USA
2University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
3US Army Research Laboratory, Adelphi, MD 20783, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Ashwin Bahulkar

Received 10 April 2017; Revised 30 June 2017; Accepted 24 July 2017; Published 20 September 2017

Academic Editor: Katarzyna Musial

Copyright © 2017 Ashwin Bahulkar et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We study a unique network dataset including periodic surveys and electronic logs of dyadic contacts via smartphones. The participants were a sample of freshmen entering university in the Fall 2011. Their opinions on a variety of political and social issues and lists of activities on campus were regularly recorded at the beginning and end of each semester for the first three years of study. We identify a behavioral network defined by call and text data, and a cognitive network based on friendship nominations in ego-network surveys. Both networks are limited to study participants. Since a wide range of attributes on each node were collected in self-reports, we refer to these networks as attribute-rich networks. We study whether student preferences for certain attributes of friends can predict formation and dissolution of edges in both networks. We introduce a method for computing student preferences for different attributes which we use to predict link formation and dissolution. We then rank these attributes according to their importance for making predictions. We find that personal preferences, in particular political views, and preferences for common activities help predict link formation and dissolution in both the behavioral and cognitive networks.