Today in my social networks class, we covered Bearman, Moody and Stovel’s 2004 AJS paper. Virtually every time i have heard that paper presented (by Peter or Jim, i’ve never actually met Stovel in person), and the couple of times i’ve talked about it in class, some variant of the following has been part of that discussion:
So, we know that there are any number of factors on which homophily operates in the formation of social networks in general. And in the particular case of romantic networks, the story’s much the same. However, there is one particular trait on which homophily is a much more robust predictor of a relationship than any others. Any guesses what that might be?
At which point the audience guesses a long list of traits, and virtually never hits #1 on the head (my class today got it on about guess 14, when i made it multiple choice from about 15 options). So, i pose the question to you, fair reader. What do you think it is?* If you’ve read the footnotes/appendices to the paper closely you can likely guess, but i’m not sure whether its actually explicitly stated anywhere in that particular paper or not.
*If no one gets it, i’ll post the answer in the comments in a day or two.