Do people befriend others who are similar to them, or do they become more similar to their friends over time? Social network Facebook helps researchers see how friendships form.

A new research, Social selection and peer influence in an online social network, by Kevin Lewis, Marco Gonzalez and Jason Kaufman

examines how we select our friends and the role that friendship plays in transmitting tastes and new ideas.

This research, founded by National Science Foundation and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this December, found that people’s individual tastes influence the formation of friendships much more that a person’s individual pre-existing tastes spread through his or her friendships.

Using data on the Facebook activity of a 200 of college students over 4 years, the authors find that students who share certain tastes in music and in movies, but not in books, are significantly likely to befriend one another.

Read more in National Science Foundation.

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