October 29, 2013

The Trait Facebook Says Determines How Long Your Relationship Will Last

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Johan Larsson
Johan Larsson

The sheer amount of social data available to Facebook makes them the best modern match-makers a person could ask for. There are millions of users to study from a huge breadth of cultural, religious, economic and geographic backgrounds. They know when we’re dating and when we’re single–and what the common threads are between those who are single and those who stay in relationships.

Newly published research on Facebook notes some interesting clues your relationship will last (or fold), namely, your mutual friends.

We put a lot of pressure on getting along with your significant other’s friends and family, but the researchers found that simply having mutual friends isn’t a good indicator of how healthy your relationships is. It’s more important that you’re matching up your lives, measured by having mutual friends across social groups (work, high school friends, family, etc).

For instance, being friends with your Bey’s 20 frat brothers isn’t as important as knowing his childhood BFF as well as his buddy from his first internship and his second cousin. This is a new measure they’ve termed “dispersion.” According to the research, the person in your (Facebook) life with the most friends from various groups, is your spouse, 60% of the time. Where the spouses didn’t exhibit this trait, the relationships were likely to end.

As the New York Times explains:

Particularly intriguing is that when the algorithm fails, it looks as if the relationship is in trouble. A couple in a declared relationship and without a high dispersion on the site are 50 percent more likely to break up over the next two months than a couple with a high dispersion, the researchers found. (Their research tracked the users every two months for two years.)

This seems natural–that the people in your life you are closest to you’ve either had through so many life phases that you have mutual friends from those phases, or that they are someone you are so close to that you manually introduce them to these people.

No word yet on how soon Skynet Facebook will be able to tell you when you’re going to enter a relationship. TC mark

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