Mediating Factors Shaping Human Mobility and Social Ties

Friday the 7th of June Christoph Stich, University of Birmingham, will give a lecture.


Recent years have seen an increasing proliferation of the use of digitally generated traces of data for understanding human behaviour. The quantitative understanding of social networks as well as patterns of human mobility has benefited tremendously from these new sources of data. The main dynamics of both social networks and human mobility such as a propensity of humans for heterogeneous behaviour, how humans choose to explore new places, or the fact that both spheres are intrinsically linked are now fairly well understood.
However, how various other factors mediate the observed dynamics is relatively unknown, not least due to the difficulty in obtaining adequate data. Thus, for my thesis I focus on how a variety of factors---places, longer-term dynamics, the personality of individuals, or neighbourhoods---might be a driver of various aspects of social and mobility behaviour.
I use data from the Copenhagen network study that tracked 847 students with smartphones and measured their social encounters as well as the locations they visited for a whole academic year.
I further use a variety of methods for analysing the data ranging from applied machine learning over inferential statistics to social network analysis. Using this dataset, I find that the qualities of places are very informative for understanding future encounters between students, that the longer-term dynamics shape both social and mobility behaviour, that while personality has a significant effect on the observed regularity of behaviour, its effect is rather small, and that the socio-economic characteristics of neighbourhoods explain part of the spatial and social behaviour of the students.

The lecture will take place at SODAS' new location in building 1, 2nd floor, room 26 (1.2.26) of the CSS Campus, University of Copenhagen, from 11.00 am to 12.30 pm.

If you have questions or want to know more, please write Agnete Vienberg Hansen at