The Annals of Applied Statistics

Co-evolution of social networks and continuous actor attributes

Nynke M. D. Niezink and Tom A. B. Snijders

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Social networks and the attributes of the actors in these networks are not static; they may develop interdependently over time. The stochastic actor-oriented model allows for statistical inference on the mechanisms driving this co-evolution process. In earlier versions of this model, dynamic actor attributes are assumed to be measured on an ordinal categorical scale. We present an extension of the stochastic actor-oriented model that does away with this restriction using a stochastic differential equation to model the evolution of continuous actor attributes. We estimate the parameters by a procedure based on the method of moments. The proposed method is applied to study the dynamics of a friendship network among the students at an Australian high school. In particular, we model the relationship between friendship and obesity, focusing on body mass index as a continuous co-evolving attribute.

Article information

Ann. Appl. Stat. Volume 11, Number 4 (2017), 1948-1973.

Received: April 2016
Revised: February 2017
First available in Project Euclid: 28 December 2017

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Social networks longitudinal data Markov model stochastic differential equations method of moments


Niezink, Nynke M. D.; Snijders, Tom A. B. Co-evolution of social networks and continuous actor attributes. Ann. Appl. Stat. 11 (2017), no. 4, 1948--1973. doi:10.1214/17-AOAS1037.

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