The Friendship Paradox On the probability of popularity.

The Friendship Paradox On the probability of popularity.

  • Words George Upton
  • Photograph Ryan Duffin

Have you ever felt like your friends were more popular than you? Perhaps you’re a little insecure about how many sexual partners you’ve had, or the number of connections you have on LinkedIn. The friendship paradox, a term coined by sociologist Scott L. Feld in 1991, would suggest these fears are not without foundation. It’s down to sampling bias: You are more likely to be friends with someone who has more friends than you, simply because there is a greater chance that you will be friends with them. It’s a quirk that’s true of all social networks, whether they are in real life (most people’s sexual partners tend to be more promiscuous than they are) or virtual (your followers on Instagram are more likely to have more followers than you).1 The phenomenon has even been used to...

The full version of this story is only available for subscribers

Want to enjoy full access? Subscribe Now

Subscribe Discover unlimited access to Kinfolk

  • Four print issues of Kinfolk magazine per year, delivered to your door, with twelve-months’ access to the entire Kinfolk.com archive and all web exclusives.

  • Receive twelve-months of all access to the entire Kinfolk.com archive and all web exclusives.

Learn More

Already a Subscriber? Login

Your cart is empty

Your Cart (0)