Facebook Study Reveals Which Couples Will 'Make It'

Dennis Faas's picture

Researchers say they can figure out when two Facebook users are in a relationship just by looking at their list of 'friends'. They also say it's possible to predict when a relationship will end.

Often, it's easy to tell when Facebook users are in a relationship because many people display this information on their profiles. However, new research says relationships can be detected even without those vital details.

The research is the work of Cornell University computer scientist Jon Kleinberg and Facebook engineer Lars Backstrom. They analyzed the Facebook accounts of 1.3 million people aged 20 or above with at least 50 Facebook friends.

Although everyone used in the sample group had listed themselves in a relationship, the researchers only used that detail for checking whether their findings were accurate. They looked at all the friends listed for each of the people in the study group, creating a total of 8.6 billion links for analysis.

Mutual Friends May Not Suggest Romance

The key to predicting a relationship was not how many friends two people had in common. Where two people shared many friends, the explanation was more likely to be that they were relatives, former school pals, or work colleagues.

Instead, people who share a relationship tend to have some friends in common, but also their own totally separate groups of friends. That's why it's often easy to divide the wedding guests into those with the groom and those with the bride.

Overall, the researchers were able to use this theory to take any individual and figure out his or her partner (out of a field of at least 50) with a 60 per cent accuracy rating.

That was more accurate than any other tested method, including looking at how many times two users attended the same event or how many personal messages they exchanged. (Source: nytimes.com)

Diverse Social Network May Make Relationship Stronger

Kleinberg and Backstrom also tracked the sample group over two years to see how relationships changed.

They discovered that if most of a couple's friends were shared, they had a 50 per cent greater chance of splitting up in the next two months than if they had diverse groups of contacts.

The researchers speculate that this may be because couples who share many friends spend too much time together and start to feel 'suffocated'. (Source: businessinsider.com)

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