This is interesting. Age-old, conventional strategic wisdom is supported by social network mapping research involving 300,000 ppl:
ScienceDaily (July 20, 2010) – A new study analysing interactions between players in a virtual universe game has for the first time provided large-scale evidence to prove an 80 year old psychological theory called Structural Balance Theory. The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that individuals tend to avoid stress-causing relationships when they develop a society, resulting in more stable social networks.
The study, carried out at Imperial College London, the Medical University of Vienna and the Santa Fe Institute, analyses relationships between 300,000 players in an online game called Pardus (http://www.pardus.at/). In this open-ended game, players act as spacecraft exploring a virtual universe, where they can make friends and enemies, and communicate, trade and fight with one another.
Structural Balance Theory is an 80 year old psychological theory that suggests some networks of relationships are more stable than others in a society. Specifically, the theory deals with positive and negative links between three individuals, where ‘the friend of my enemy is my enemy’ is more stable (and therefore more common) than ‘the friend of my friend is my enemy’.
….The authors found that in positive relationships, players are more likely to reciprocate actions and sentiments than in negative ones. For example, if player A declares player B to be their friend, player B is likely to do the same. If player A declares player B to be their enemy, however, player B is not likely to reciprocate.
The research also revealed strong interactions between different types of links, with some networks overlapping extensively, as players are likely to engage in similar interactions, and others tending to exclude each other. For example, friendship and communication networks overlap: as we would expect, friends tend to talk to each other. However, trade and hostility did not overlap at all, showing that enemies tend not to trade with one another.
Dr Renaud Lambiotte said: “This may seem like an obvious finding, as we would all prefer to communicate more with people we like. However, nobody has shown the evidence for this theory on such a large scale before.”
Read the rest here.
First, I wonder what Valdis Krebs thinks of this study?
Second, does this bear out on larger scale entities that cultivate primary loyalties?