RESEARCH PAPER: Skill complementarity enhances heterophily in collaboration networks

RESEARCH PAPER: Skill complementarity enhances heterophily in collaboration networks

Much empirical evidence shows that individuals usually exhibit significant homophily in social networks. We demonstrate, however, skill complementarity enhances heterophily in the formation of collaboration networks, where people prefer to forge social ties with people who have professions different from their own. We construct a model to quantify the heterophily by assuming that individuals choose collaborators to maximize utility. Using a huge database of online societies, we find evidence of heterophily in collaboration networks. The results of model calibration confirm the presence of heterophily. Both empirical analysis and model calibration show that the heterophilous feature is persistent along the evolution of online societies. Furthermore, the degree of skill complementarity is positively correlated with their production output. Our work sheds new light on the scientific research utility of virtual worlds for studying human behaviors in complex socioeconomic systems.

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