An Experimental Study of the Small World Problem Author(s): Jeffrey Travers and Stanley Milgram Source: Sociometry, Vol

. 32, No. 4 (Dec., 1969), pp. 425-443 Published by: American Sociological Association Stable URL: Accessed: 23/09/2010 13:05
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An ExperimentalStudy of the Small World Problem*
JEFFREY TRAVERS Harvard University

STANLEY MILGRAM The City University New York of individuals selected Arbitrarily (N-296) in Nebraskaand Bostonare asked chainsto a target to generate acquaintance personin Massachusetts, employmethod" (Milgram, 1967). Sixty-four chains reach ing "the small world thisgroupthe mean number intermediaries bethe target person.Within of the target chains reach tweenstarters and targetsis 5.2. Boston starting in withfewer than person intermediaries thosestarting Nebraska; subpopulaThe funneling tionsin the Nebraskagroupdo not differ amongthemselves. with48 per centof the chains of chainsthrough sociometric "stars"is noted, the three passingthrough personsbefore reaching target. Applications the of method studiesof large scale social structure discussed. to are the The simplest is way of formulating smallworldproblem "what is the from largepopulation, a thatany twopeople,selectedarbitrarily probability suchas thatof theUnitedStates,willknoweach other?"A moreinteresting takes accountof the fact that,whilepersonsa and z formulation, however, may not know each other directly, they may share one or more mutual acquaintances;that is, theremay exista set of individuals, (consisting B, of individuals b2 . . . bn) who knowboth a and z and thus link them bi, a More generally, and z may be connected by any single to one another. not common but acquaintance, by a seriesof suchintermediaries, a-b-c- . . -y-z; . i.e., a knowsb (and no one else in the chain); b knowsa and in addition knowsc, c in turnknowsd, etc. To elaboratethe problemsomewhat let further, us represent populathe
* The study was carriedout while both authors were at Harvard University, and was financedby grants from the Milton Fund and from the Harvard Laboratory of Social Relations.Mr. JosephGerverprovidedinvaluable assistancein summarizing and criticizing work discussedin thispaper. the mathematical 425

median chain lengths.(Knowingis hereassumedto be symmetric:if a knowsb thenb knowsa. populations. treatment with the The only exampleof mathematical dealing directly small world problemis the model providedby Ithiel Pool and Manfred Pool and Kochen assume a population Kochen (unpublished manuscript). . knowing about a famousperson.The acquaintancechains describedabove appear as pathwaysalong connected line segments. They are thenable intermediariesrequired to link them is 0. This is the tracea number real acquaintance of in techniqueof the study reported this paper. there mustbe at least one chainconnecting twopeoplein the any population.n othersin the of N individuals. 1. that two persons population. of betweenany two individuals. the probability from groupcan be linkedby a chainof k intermediaries. Using of volumeprovided Gurevitch an estimate averageacquaintance by (1961).) The structure takes the formof a cluster of roughly200 millionpoints with a complexweb of connections among them.on the average. Unless some portionof the populationis totally isolated fromthe . The principal questionof the presentinvestigacould be demonstrated tion was whethersuch interconnectedness experimentally.such that no one in that subgroupknows anyone outsideit. . Substantively. variouslengths. In view of such a structure. Instead of allowingacquaintance nets to definethe Pool and Kochenmust.426 SOCIOMETRY set tion of the United States by a partiallyconnected of points. but mean chain lengths. "knowing" used to is denotea mutualrelationship. the chosenrandomly of Theirbasic modeltakesthe form a "tree"or geometric progression.conceiveof societyas beingpartitioned of hypothetical each withidentical groups.e.) the small worldproblemis to Perhapsthe most directway of attacking chainsin a largepopulation. etc. k? (Alternatively. into a number poses of theirmodel. .forthepurof boundaries functioning social groups. othersenses of the verb. what is the probability that the minimum numberof mightask not about the minimum chains betweenpairs of people.fullof unexfromone another individuals far pected strandslinking seemingly removed in physicalor social space.are excluded. The phrase "small world" are thatsocial networks in some sense tightly suggests woven. generalthere In will be manysuch pathways.Let each a that pointrepresent person. They attemptto calculatePk. will to theydeducethattwo intermediaries be required link typicalpairs of in of individuals a population 200 million.and let a line connecting pointssignify two the twoindividuals knoweach other. way of refining statement the one our of smallworld problem thefollowing: is giventwoindividuals selected randomly fromthe population. 2.g. each of whom knows. Theirmodeldoes not take account of social structure.

Foster et introducing numberof "biases" into the a random model. are sufficient producea closefitbetween predictions themodel to the of and the empirical outcome the traceprocedure. and it would the to be difficult modify modelto deal withgeneralsymmetric nets.which the characterize small worldphenomenon. we set the number axones traced from givenindividualequal to the total numberof acquaintancesof an a average person. (It should. 1963) have developed a mathematical model to describethis tracingprocedure. targetpoint is said to be of the A if tthremove it is of the tthgeneration no lowergeneration.e.e.1 of Rapoport'smodel was designedto describea trace procedure quite difin it ferent fromthe one employed the presentstudy.STUDY OF THE SMALL WORLD PROBLEM 427 to devisea way to predict chainlengths within between and suchhypothesized groups. thatmorecomplex the Rapoport nets.and the process is repeatedindefinitely. the Rapoport model predicts the total fractionof the populationpotentiallytraceable at each remove fromthe start. net obtainablefrom the data. the fraction the total populationthat would be contacted tracingfriendof by ship choices froman arbitrarystartingpopulation of nine individuals. 1961. Rapoportwas interested connectivity. has some If of relationto the small worldproblem. serving the precisely aims of the modelof Pool and Kochen.) Despite the goodnessof fitbetweenRapoport'smodeland the data from 1 Thereis additional evidence(Fararo and Sunshine. Rapoport. and Rapoport thensuggests formula calculating a for the fraction.however.He is also able to extendthe formulato nonrandom nets.Rapoportshowsthattwoparameters. be noted that Rapoport'smodel deals with asymmetric nets. of the population Pt. the The same fixed number axonesis thenextended of from each of the targetpoints to a set of second generation targetpoints. 1963.They thentracedthe acquaintancechains created the in i.. by the students'choices. The model takes as a point of departure random nets constructed the following in manner:a smallnumber points of is chosenfrom largerpopulationand a fixednumberof "axones" is exa tendedfrom each of thesepointsto a set of target pointschosenat random from population. tracing procedure. Rapoportand his associates (Rapoport and Horvath. in connectivity friendship . In an empirical studyrelatedto the small worldproblemRapoportand Horvath (1961) examinedsociometric nets in a junior high school of 861 students. 1964) and theoretical empirical to are that 1967) fortheassumption twoparameters sufficient describe (Abelson. pointswhichare targetsof the tth remove. support on effects biaseshave minimal i. 1953. The authorsasked studentsto name in order their eight best friends within school. such as those created in the Rapoport and Horvath empiricalstudy. however.

was collectedforeach participant. with regardto the empiricalstudy of Rapoport and Horvath. it is difficult On knowwhichsimplifying assumptions likelyto be fruitful. in thepresent study. homofact that the total population employed geneousleaves open manyquestionsabout the natureof acquaintancenets in thelarger society. of and Katz and Menzel'sMedicalInnovation. sex and occupation. and asked the recipient becomea participant sendingthe document to by on.such as the assumption and may be partitioned into a set of groupsalike in size and in internal to In externalconnectedness. varying"starting by populations".there are unsolved problems in the model. the other are hand. 2 In addition thePool-Kochen to and Rapoport work.The senderwas urged to choose the recipient in sucha way as to advancetheprogress the document of towardthe target. Certainbasic information. Two wellknown examples Bailey'sThe Mathematical are Theory Epidemics Coleman.2 empirical An studyof American society a wholemay as well uncoverphenomena interest of both in theirown rightand as conon straints the natureof any correct model of the structure mathematical of large-scale acquaintanceship nets.428 SOCIOMETRY two large sociograms. It was stipulatedthat the documentcould be sent only to a first-name acquaintanceof the sender. Thus.well-defined. each document made its way along an acquaintancechain of indefinite length. PROCEDURE for This paper follows procedure tracing the acquaintancechains devised and firsttestedby Milgram (1967). rather on from set of scattered a as sources. as Rapoporthimself and others (Fararo and Sunshine. The Pool-Kochenmodel involvesassumptions that society to cally oriented social scientist accept. such as age. Katz and Menzelstudydeals withan important substantive correlate acquaintance of nets.Each witha document asked to beginmoving by mail and starter was provided it The document the towardthe target described study.the and was small. The procedure an maybe summarized follows: arbitrary as "target person" and a groupof "starting and an attempt persons"wereselected. named the target. the absence of empiricaldata.1964) have pointed difficult an empirifor out. severalitemsof information about the targetwere providedto guide each new senderin his choice of recipient. it also constitutes first a technicalreporton the small worldmethod. Bailey'sworkdeals withdiffusion froma structured thanwithconvergence a target source. The Coleman. . The presentpaper introduces exan perimental variationin this procedure.namely information diffusion. there numerous are other studies of socialnetwork phenomena related thesmall-world tangentially to problem. was made to generatean acquaintancechain fromeach starterto the target. chain whichwould end a only whenit reachedthe targetor when someonealong the way declined to participate.

then.100 volunteers were solicitedthrough an in advertisement a Boston newspaper(the "Boston random"group). norwas money otherreward or as for of . The targetpersonwas a Boston stockbroker. thesewill be termed "Nebraska random"group. Several experimental of extensions the of procedure alreadyunderway. other in and characteristics participants of wouldbe observed within chains?How would complete chainsdiffer from incomplete theseand otherdimensions? on An additionalcomparison was set up by using three distinctstarting subpopulations. of The primary researchquestions. The restwerechosenfrom populationat large. Participants offered incentive completion chains.involveda test of the feasibility and fruitfulness the methodas well as an attempt discover of some eleto mentary features real social nets. sex.100 were systematically chosen ownersof blue-chipstocks. these will be designated"Nebraska the stockholders" this throughout paper.who numbered solicited otherparticipants. One of the Nebraska groupsconsisted bluechipstockholders. towardthe target.In addithe tion to the two Nebraska groups. Moreoverwe hoped to establisha strategy future for experimental extensions the procedure. two of the starting populations were geographically removedfromhim.occupation. these. in Intermediaries. selectedfrom the state of Nebraska. of in whichthesociological characteristics thestarting target of and populations wouldbe systematically variedin orderto exposefeatures social structure.STUDY OF THE SMALL WORLD PROBLEM 429 We wereinterested discovering in some of the internal structural features of chains and in makingcomparisons across chains as well.Participation werenot paid. The remaining participants the study.By comparisons across thesegroupswe hoped to assess the relativeeffects geographical of distance and of contactwith the target'soccupationalgroup. 453 in all. of was comprised 296 volunteers. Withinthis group. moredetaileddescription the current are A of method givenin the following is sections. Among the questions hoped to answer we werethe following: How manyof the starters -if any-would be able to establishcontact with the targetthrougha chain of acquaintances?How many intermediaries would be requiredto link the ends of the chains? What formwould the distribution chain of lengths take? What degreeof homogeneity age. A thirdpopulationwas selected fromthe Boston while area.The starting populationforthe study PARTIcIPANTS.196 were residents the state of Of of Nebraska. of the secondNebraskagroupand the Bostongroupwere"randomly" selected and had no specialaccess to the investment business. werein effect by theywereacquainas tancesselectedby previous participants people likelyto extendthe chain was voluntary.solicitedby mail. Starting Population. Each memberof the startingpopulationbecame the firstlink in a chain of directed the target acquaintances at person.

personwas a stockholder TargetPerson. Add yourname to the roster thatthe nextpersonwho receivesthis so folder will knowwhomit came from. b.e. mail this folder met the to directly him (her). The documentcontainedthe following instructions participants: to a. you knowpersonally. information concerning personand selected b. If you know the targetperson on a personalbasis. of document appearsin Milgram. A photographic reproduction this experimental . One questionunderindates.. c. mail this folderto a personal try to contacthim directly. and his wife'smaidenname and hometown. whicheach participant asked to affix name. was to about each businessreplycards asking information d. thenameof the target his c. do not Instead. stamp is needed.It was hoped thata list of priorpartica ipants. The postcard of It is veryimportant. Do this only if you have previously name basis. a stack of fifteen participant. If you do not know the targetperson on a personalbasis. acquaintancewho is morelikelythan you to know the targetperson. particadditionto his name.The primary "looping. suburbof Boston. a roster. allows us to keep track of the progress the folder it movestowardthe target as person. and who worksin Boston proper. specific Rules for Participation. him.Fill it out and No returnit to Harvard University."i. acquaintance. requestthatthe recipient of ipant. relative.including personalacquaintancewho had sent the documentto 1969: 110-11. An additionalfunction the roster the vate people to continue chains. a description thestudy. it mustbe someone who lives in Sharon. contained: was thetool of the investigations The document principal becomea partica a.occupation service his military ipants were told his college and year of graduation. Detach one postcardfromthe bottomof this folder. or but You may send thebookleton to a friend.and a set of rules forparticipation. to to prevent sendingthe document someonewho had already people from of was to motiit received and sentit on.430 SOCIOMETRY which weresent a document The 296 initialvolunteers THE DOCUMENT. whichpeople would use in reaching was vestigation the typeof information the target.The target a Massachusetts. targetpersonand know each otheron a first d.In and place of employment.address. of was to prevent function the roster Roster.

Complete Chains. 3) relatively fewchainswould remainactive long enough and target(otherwise starters therewas serious doubt to reach completion). of the documents. Finally. theyassuredus of getting information even from chainswhichwerenot completed. persons.217 of the 296 starting personsactuallysent the document could reach the target on to friends. The name. Moreover. relatives.Given these contingencies. The actual outinterlocking acquaintancenetworks or comewas that64 of the folders.age sex and occupationof the senderand sender'sspouse were requested. 2) participants were for closerto the target able to adopt some strategy movingthe documents further allow themto (this condition requiredthat the given information in selectthe nextrecipient a mannerthat increasedthe probability conof shortpaths were in fact requiredto link tactingthe target). on and converge him. RESULTS COMPLETIONS. natureof the relationship In the between senderand recipient-whether they were friends. whether apparentdrop in frequency the It was unclearon first inspection of or at the medianlength fivelinkswas a statistical the accident. 29 per centof thosesentout by starting reachedthe target. were the name.STUDY OF THE SMALL WORLD PROBLEM 431 therecipient. Figure 1 showsthe of as is heredefined thenumber intermediaries requiredto link starters and The mean of the distribution 5. to TracerCards. address. wouldcreatewillingness the part of thosewho received on the document send it on. whether was revealed that the distribution actually bimodal. etc. "Chain length" . is target. Anyone of the documents persononly if thefollowing weremet: 1) recipients weresufficiently motivated conditions on to send the document to thenextlink in the chain. Furtherinvestigation relationgraphedin Figure 1 concealedtwo underlying distribusummary chainsweredividedinto thosewhichapproached tions: whenthe completed and those which approachedhim via the target throughhis hometown frequency distribution of lengths of the completed chains. Each participant asked to return us a businessreply was to cardgiving certain information about himself about thepersonto whom and he sent the document. addition.2 as and age of the recipient.-was asked. whether in the mindof the investigators any particularly in from target could movethrough thosestarting an area remote the person. of The businessreplycardsenabledus to keep running trackof theprogress of each chain. businessassociates. participants were asked why they had selected particular the recipient the folder. eventually DISTRIBUTIONOF CHAIN LENGTHS. allowing to make comparisons us between completeand incomplete chains. address.

as U Mann-Whitney test. Chains which convergeon Qualitatively. distribution of lying what we do not know. (Note that more assessed by the distribution-free of betweenmeans statisticaltests of the significance differences powerful of be appliedto thesedata.432 20 - SOCIOMETRY 15 - Z~~~ : A U \ Nx64 0 10 a: w 5 0 0 I 2 3 7 8 9 5 6 4 OF NUMBER INTERMEDIARIES FIGURE 1 Chains Lengths Completed of 10 I1 12 two distinguishable distributions Boston businesscontracts.) of acquaintancechains is precisely lengths what seems to occur is this.The is meanof theSharondistribution 6.Such additionalinformation a list of local organizations the .6. sincethosetestsassumenormality undercannot The shape of the true or theoretical distributions. The difference significant a level betterthan . or the surrounding circleof acquaintances.and thatof the Bostondistribuis at tion is 4. There is no available information the tering target's to narrowthe fieldof potentialcontactswhich an individualmighthave as within town.1 links. reach his hometown information the targetprincipally using geographic by but once thereoftencirculatebeforeenareas readily.0005. emerged.

By contrast.Figure2 showsthenumber of chainswhichdroppedout at each "remove"from starting population. thirdthroughtwo the as intermediaries. 0 CU Z\ REMOVE FROM STARTAT WHICH TERMINATION OCCURRED FIGURE 2 Lengths Incomplete of Chains . his completion dropor Incomplete Chains. Chains terminate eitherthrough out: each dropout results an incomplete in chain. The lengthof an incomplete etc.6 links.The "second remove" received the documentfromthe startersvia one intermediary. The mean of the distribution 2.-STUDY OF THE SMALL WORLD PROBLEM 433 of which the targetis a membermighthave provideda natural funnel. thenthrough firm. zeroingin on him first through brokerage the business. facilitating progress the document the of fromtown to targetperson. By this definition. The proportion chains which drop out at each removedeclines as of 80 Z 60X _ 60 U I F \ _J\ \ Nx232 o 40 U. equivof alently. Figure 2 represents frequency a is lengthsof incomplete chains.those chains which approach the target throughoccupational channelscan take advantageof just such a funnel. the numberof transmissions the folderwhichprecededropas of of distribution the out. the The "Oth remove"represents starting the populationitself: the "firstredirectly from move" designates set of peoplewho received document the the membersof the startingpopulation.or. chain may be defined the number removesfromthe startat whichdropoutoccurs.

Thus some data were available even for dropouts. the distribution actual lengths completed and target an unknown between starters the truesocial distance amount.The percentage dropoutsthen appears to theory. sex.If are least likelyto be able to advance the document of of chainswould understate so. i. the totalnumber chainsin circulation as of grows the small.. of It also beginsto fluctuate. towardthe target.the observeddistribution understates the calculable amount. estimates just raised. by a potentially is that this effect not powerful. however. Such subjective may accountfor individualdecisions chainsthatdie in factwould not to participate.barringthe existenceof totallyisolatedcliques withinthe populationunderstudy. thanothers have been longer People have poor the of intuitions concerning lengths acquaintancechains. the nature of theirrelationship the people to . It is likelythat thisoccursforone of two major reasons: 1) individuals not motivated are in the study. per cent of the 217 chains actuallyinitiatedby the starters die at the firstremove. would be useful to know whetherthe dropoutsare randomor systematic. any two people can be linkedby at least one acquaintancechain of finitelength. namelyage. It will be recalledthat each participant the was asked for information only about himself not but also about the person to whomhe sent the document.Yet. as About 27 per centof the 296 folders sent to the starting population not sent on. 2) they do not know to whom to send the to participate in document orderto advance it towardthe target. Moreover. are thatdropouts precisely thosepeople who It is hard to guessthe circles see can rarely beyondtheir in whichfriends friends-notto mention of people even moreremotely connectedto oneself-may move.forexample. are 27 Similarly.and an increasing proportion completions further of complicates picture. incomplete in becausea certain chainsare found ourempirical tracing procedure propordo tionof thosewho receivethe document not send it on. First. More directevidencethat dropouts may be treatedas "random"can be gleanedfrom tracercards.) We can offer but true distribution.though people may drop out because they that any of theiracquaintances can advance the folder see littlepossibility to are theirsubjectiveestimates irrelevant the question towardthe shouldbe clear that.434 SOCIOMETRY chainsgrowin length.e. people ownacquaintances. the of of it For purposes gauging significance our numerical results. It was arguedearlierthat. for or whether not theyare relatedto a chain'sprognosis rapid completion. some evidence. thatproportion based on all chainsactiveat each if is remove(those destinedforcompletion well as incompletion). by (Even if dropoutsare random. theydo not tellus whether had theygone to completion.

TABLE 1 Activity Chainsat Each Remove of All Chains Remove Chains Reaching Completions this Remove at thisRemove Dropouts at this Remove Per cent Dropouts Remove I Chains R thisR 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 296 217 158 122 95 76 50 38 17 10 6 4 1 1 1 0 0 2 3 8 14 8 16 6 2 2 3 0 0 0 79 59 34 24 11 12 4 5 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 27 27 22 20 12 16 8 13 6 20 0 0 0 0 100 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 2 1 .

As Table 2 shows. Qi depends number removes on of from origin) the thatthenext intermediary knowsthetarget. therelationship between starting target the and populations. from origin.436 SOCIOMETRY preceding themin the chain.Lettersfromthe Nebraska subpopulations had to covera of geographic distance about 1300 milesin orderto reachthe target. throws intermediary away the folderwith fixedprobability I-a.Of course. we are therefore by led of betweenthe two groups. an target completing chain. (p?.and the reason the dropouthad been selected These fourvariableswere tabulatedfor dropouts to receivethe document.themedian length completed chainsrisesfrom to 7. was by chains originating with the Boston randomgroup showed a mean length of 4. Based on these the withno dropouts resembles observed values. In thepresent study. mightreadilypredictthat completechains in in originating the Boston area would be shorter than those originating Nebraska.threestarting populations wereused (Nebraska random.This presumption confirmed the data. but no 5 in drawnfrom raw data.05 level of statistical significance chi-squaretest. or sendsit on with is probability If senton. Boston random.75." the following sense. whereas in lettersoriginating the Boston group almost all startedwithin25 miles of his home and/orplace of work.An intermediary knowsthe who sends him the folder. data is consistent The with a valuefora of approximately independent remove and of 0.7 intermediaries the Nebraska randomgroup.001 by for 4 Professor Harrison White Harvard of for University developed technique adjusthas a ing raw chainlength data to takeaccount the dropout of problem. method His assumes are in that dropouts "random.4 A research SUBPOPULATION COMPARISONS. the 1.) The relevant and experimentalquestions werewhether proportion completed the of chainsor mean chain lengths wouldvaryas a function starting of population. Chain Length.there a probability (which a. whichinvolved onlya singletarget person.with probability Otherwise.has alreadybeen comusingNegro and White starting pletedby Korteand Milgram(in press). Nebraska stockholders. hence the witha "random" rateof 25 per cent. until a way is foundto force all chains to completion.the hypothetical curveof completions of curveshifted upward. None of the resulting contingency . dropout suggest grows a "staircase" in pattern from zero (at zeroremoves from starting the population) to approximately one-third six removes. tables achievedthe versusnon-dropouts. possible paradigmfor future usingthe tracing procedure described here involvessystematic variationof One such study.a definitive are reallyrandommustwait until the deterquestionof whether dropouts or minantsof chain lengthare understood. and targetgroups.The limited data further to accept the null hypothesis no difference answerto the least on this limitedset of opposed to a mean lengthof 5. at remaining constant thereafter.Since social proximity dependsin part one on geographic proximity.4 intermediaries betweenstarters and target. the substantial alteration required conclusions is .

TABLE 2 Lengths of Completed Chains Frequency Distribution Number of Intermediaries Population 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Total Start Nebraska Random Nebraska Stock All BostonRandom 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 3 3 1 3 4 4 6 14 4 3 4 8 1 6 6 16 4 2 2 2 0 1 2 1 1 1 0 1 1 3 1 0 0 0 18 24 64 22 Nebra Nebra 0 8 6 2 0 Bosto All All Neb .

such a derate. The significant the Mann-Whitney by difference not statistically was used the brokerage channelmore businessas a communication stockholders in oftenthan did the randomgroup. of one demographic variable-place of residence starters group was presumedto have easy access to The Nebraska stockholder business.75)2 of reaching a etc.Because the targetpersonwas a stockcontactsin the brokerage in broker.7 per cent of all the participants with connected occupations chainsoriginating thestockholder groupreported in in while 31.thelonger chainneededto be in orderto reachcomplelong enoughto run its full tion.The chainthan meansforthe two groups. twolinks. Moreover.however. Thus. X3=2.Nebraska stockholder. the dropout and weakentheobserved inverse creasewouldoff-set effect discussed the just of relation betweenchain lengthand proportion completions. TABLE 3 Populations for Proportion Completions ThreeStarting of Starting Population Stock.4 for the stockholders. test. rate is constant each removefrom at the Let us assumethat the dropout start.5. N.438 SOCIOMETRY U to a one-tailed Mann-Whitney test.In thiscase.8 per cent of participants chains originating with finance. in were not sufficiently differences completion large to producesignificant if rate declinesas chainsgrowlong.7 intermediaries the randomsample for length but the differed the expecteddirection.3. forexample. Nebraska Random Nebraska Boston Total Complete Incomplete 18 58 76 (24%) (76%) (100%o) 24 54 78 (31%) (69%) (100%) 22 41 63 (35%) (65%) (100o) 64 153 217 (29%) (71%) (100%) df.P>.S. the proportions of and chains completedfor the Nebraska random. 60.This result deserves brief discussion. As of Proportion Completions. chains originating this groupwere expectedto reach the target moreefficiently chains fromthe Nebraska randomgroup. in and 5. the Nebraska randomgroupwere so classified.) Chain lengththus provedsensitive and target. 31 per cent and 35 per cent.If. indicatedin Table 3. Although for is a weak tendency highercompletion rates to occur in groupswhere mean length of completedchains is shorter.(.the less likelythatthe chainwouldsurvive differences amongthe three groups chain-length course.17. . Boston subpopulations were 24 per cent.=2. the differences not statistically significant. there are respectively.the dropoutrate were 25 per cent then any chain of one wouldhave a 75 per centprobability reaching link.

Amongthe three. some intermediaries appear in morethan one chain. chainsconverge the target. Sixteen. G. pletions. These three a links" together accountedfor 48 per cent of the total com"penultimate an divisionof labor appears.STUDY OF THE SMALL WORLD PROBLEM 439 COMMONCHANNELS. interesting 64 INDIVIDUALS 55 INDIVIDUALS 5 CHAINS 26 INDIVIDUALS 16 CHAINS CHAINS 2 CHAINS 3 FIGURE 3 Common Paths Appearas ChainsConverge the Target on .and 5 through second businessassociate. Mr. Figure 3 showsthepattern convergence. a Another made contactthrough single a businessassociate. 64 letters The whichreachedthe target of were sent by a total of 26 people. reachedthe 10 targetthrough singleneighbor.fully25 per cent. As on common channels appear-that is.

two per OF ADDITIONAL CHARACTERISTICSCHAINS. corresponding ment to othermen than to women. a clothing towardthe targetthosechainswhich hometown Sharon. Men were ten timesmorelikelyto send the docurecipient. 14 per cent sent it to relatives. Boston area. from Sharonresidents the Mr. P.and (3) there . G came from thosecompletions. of by data on sex and occupationare complicated the characteristics the of contactwithhim. Data on patternsof age. seventeennames appear once each. sex and occupationsupportthe plausible hysimilar a from pool of individuals selectrecipients thatparticipants pothesis The data on age supportthe hypothesis unequivocally. scattering names appear two or three times on the links. who accountedfor 10 and 5 of Sharon. G.001). G accountedfor 2/3 of chainsreachedthe targetfromhis hometown. chainspassed through individuals. G funnelled of Twenty-four place of residence.whereas D in a wide varietyof occupations. residents whichreachedMr. targetand the special requirement establishing categoriesand the ages of those who Age was bracketedinto ten-year tabled against the ages of those to whomtheysent it. the sex of the recipient: thereappear to be threetendencies governing Thus to to (1) thereis a tendency send the document someoneof one's own sex. but (2) womenare morelikelyto crosssex lines than men.and a chi-square betterthan the .while women were equally likely to wereaffected to send thefolder malesas to females(p<. appeared 5 times. completions. to people two removesfromthe target. These results by the fact that the targetwas male. the letters All Mr. Going one step appeared even beforethe penultimate Convergence we further back.001 level. sent the document to the table showed a strongtendency clusteraround the On inspection test showedthe associationto be significant at diagonal. Mr.the to themselves. were contactedby people scatteredaround the respectively. and P receivedit almostalways from A of stockbrokers. appeared to and on all occasionssentthedocument Mr. the sex of each sender was tabled against the sex of the Similarly. Eighty-six centof the parand acquaintas to sent the folder personstheydescribed friends ticipants had been ances. wereadvancingon the basis of the target's Mr.By contrast. Otherindividuals or three times each. G received folder On theotherhand. D and Mr. list of penultimate link. and in severalcases. B.440 SOCIOMETRY in merchant the target's is who accountedfor 16 completions. In an earlierpilot study using a both men and womenwere threetimesas likelyto send the femaletarget. by people livingin othercitiesentirely.The same percentages observedin an earlierpilot study. Mr. findthat the 64 55 One man. of of to document members the same sex as to members the oppositesex.

The study demonstrated feasibility the "small world" and measuring and took a step towarddemonstrating. in and the targetwas himself memberof that class.the above resultswere obtainedforboth tables. the subsectorof the economywith which the individualwould be likely to deal. The coding systemwas ad hoc. Thus therewas no a circles in progressing from need for the documentto leave middle-class starters target. extend individual's an whichmembers the chains of and in the sheersize of the populationfrom the of were drawn. The occupations reportedby participantswere rated on two comthat is. defining technique. the on strength the relationship industry of for seemed to be largelydue to a tendencyfor the folderto stay withinthe financefield once it arrived with that field. whenseparatetableswereconstructed chainsoriginating the3 starting in for for populations. Morethere. ponents-one of social status and one of "industry"affiliation. is needed to deal withsocial networks still in The theoretical machinery The empiricaltechniqueof this researchhas two major conits infancy. mustinevitably efficient to a target.STUDY OF THE SMALL WORLD PROBLEM 441 is a tendency send the document someoneof the same sex as the to to targetperson. of to tributions make to the development that theory. controlling comthe finding of pletionof chains or for starting populationdid not affect demographic homogeneity withinchains.001 for both tables). fullaccountof all paths emanating of intermediaries observedin this study was somewhat greaterthan five. findings the held up in all 3 tables. to for When separatecontingency tables were constructed complete and incomplete chains. traceprocedure our producechains path model which takes longerthan those generated an accurate theoretical by The mean number an from individual. it sets an numberof intermediaries requiredto link upper bound on the minimum the most Since subjectscannotalways foresee widelyseparatedAmericans. in inter-connectedness a large society. . the participants the study were a heavily middle-classsample. we for all sendersof the document against those of respective observed a strong tendencyfor people to select recipientssimilar to themselves both measures (p<.obviouslybecause the targetwas affiliated over. designedto fit the occupational ratings titlessuppliedby participants. Similarly.Thus.First. However. CONCLUSIONS of The contribution the studylies in the use of acquaintancechains to to and contacts a geographically sociallyremote target. Tabling the status and "industry" recipients.

Gurevitch.N." Psychology Today 1(May):61-67. and S. Acquaintance LinksBetween Whiteand NegroPopulations: Application of the Small WorldMethod. S. 1957 The Mathematical Theory Epidemics. Unpublished doctoral M. H. Muzafer Sherif Carolyn Sherif and W. New York: Academic Vol. 1969 "Interdisciplinary thinking the smallworldproblem. Abelson. Cambridge: Korte. Fararo. 1961 The Social Structure Acquaintanceship of Networks. J. Berkowitz Pp. Orwant Foster. P. E. Syracuse University.T. and C. A. J. convergence communication viduals is an important featureof small world nets.442 SOCIOMETRY additionalresearch(by Korte and Milgram) indicatesthat this value is Both the magnitude is quite stable. might systematically in side. Katz and H. (eds. Further. of New York: Hafner.As suggestedearlier.Journal Personality of and Social Psychology Milgram.T. general of is person paradigmforresearch to vary the characteristics the starting one provary the information and the target. T.) in Advances Experimental SocialPsychology. Rapoport of 1963 "A study a large of II. Press. Coleman.the study and stability the parameter of which futuremodels should explain. what specificvariables are critical for establishing people of given characteristics.what on about the target orderto determine. in 1967 "Mathematical models socialpsychology.Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. . S. need to be accountedfor. In has uncovered severalphenomena chains through commonindiof the particular. dissertation. There are many additionallines of empiricalresearchthat may be examined with the small world method." 1-54in L.n the Social Sciences. Milgram C.Second. sociogram Elimination free parameters. (ed. and it should be accountedfor theoretically. C. J. Menzel J." 103-120in and Pp. contact between side. (in press). M.. YouthDevelopment Center. REFERENCES R. and M." Behavioral Science 8(January):56-65. Sunshine 1964 A Studyof a BiasedFriendship Syracuse: Net.I. C. A 1966 MedicalInnovation: Diffusion Study. 1967 "The smallworldproblem.) Interdisciplinary Relationships Chicago:AldinePublishing Company. thepsychological vided in and on the sociological a strategies peopleemploy reaching distanttarget.even whenracial crossover introduced. III. ..

Galanter Vol." 493-579in R. 1961 "A studyof a largesociogram. New York: JohnWileyand Sons. Kochen to Model. J.I." . and W. R. Horvath A. Undated A Non-Mathematical Introduction a Mathematical Cambridge: M." a with socio-structural through population 1953 "Spread of information 15 Biophysics (December):523-543. mimeo.) Handbookof Mathematical R. Bush and E. andM. Luce. II.I. modelsof social interaction. 1963 "Mathematical Psychology.STUDY OF THE SMALL WORLD PROBLEM 443 Pool.T. (eds. Rapoport. Rapoport. Bulletinof Mathematical Pp. A. Behavioral Science6(October):279-291. D. bias.

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