Dr Cohen R. Simpson
Former Research Fellow
Cohen is a sociologist specialising in the quantitative study of human social networks. He left the OII in 2020 to join the London School of Economics as a Fellow in Quantitative Research Methods.
Much of what we know about how humans choose their social contacts is implicitly assumed to be universal despite this knowledge being largely based on studies of adolescent friendship in schools in societies that are western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic or WEIRD (e.g., Germany, the Netherlands and the United States). Psychologists and anthropologists have found WEIRD societies to be globally atypical with respect to cognition, values, motivation and behaviour. As a result, there are grounds for questioning the degree to which our current understanding of network formation is widely applicable. Building on a new ecological theory of network formation and using data on face-to-face friendship between adult residents of dozens of rural villages in China, this project investigates whether the expression of mechanisms of network formation (e.g., reciprocity and transitivity) varies across environments.