Sociology Index


Heterogamy, Homogamy

"Birds of the same feather flock together". "Similarity breeds connection." Homophily or "love of the same" is the propensity of individuals to associate and bond with similar others. Heterophily is the opposite of homophily. Homophily has been found in many network studies. Studies have observed homophily establishes that similarity breeds connection. Homophilic relationships share common characteristics that make communication easy. Homophily often leads to homogamy, that is, marriage between people with similar characteristics.

Twitter is both a heterophilic network and homophilic network. Given the way Twitter works, inevitably people find themselves following or being followed by those with both dissimilar and similar interests.

Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks - Annual Review of Sociology Vol. 27: 415-444
The homophily principle ties marriage, friendship, work, comembership, and other types of relationship. The result is that people's personal networks are homogeneous with regard to many sociodemographic, behavioral, and intrapersonal characteristics. Homophily limits people's social worlds in a way that has powerful implications for the information they receive, the attitudes they form, and the interactions they experience.

Homophily in race and ethnicity creates the strongest divides in our personal environments, with age, religion, education, occupation, and gender following in roughly that order. Geographic propinquity, families, organizations, and isomorphic positions in social systems all create contexts in which homophilous relations form. Ties between nonsimilar individuals also dissolve at a higher rate, which sets the stage for the formation of niches within social space.

The Evolution of Homophily - Feng Fu, Martin A. Nowak, Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler
There has been little theoretical work on the phenomenon of homophily, the tendency for individuals to interact with similar others. Here, we model how natural selection can give rise to homophily when individuals engage in social interaction in a population with multiple observable phenotypes. The results show that homophily tends to evolve under a wide variety of conditions, helping to explain its ubiquity in nature.