Multilevel structural evaluation of signed directed social networks based on Balance Theory

Aref, S., Dinh, L., Rezapour, R., Diesner, J.
Scientific Reports 10
12 pages.
Springer Nature
Aref, S., Dinh, L., Rezapour, R. et al. Multilevel structural evaluation of signed directed social networks based on balance theory. Sci Rep 10, 15228 (2020). (2020)
Open Access


Balance theory explains how network structural configurations relate to tension in social systems, which are commonly modeled as static undirected signed graphs. We expand this modeling approach by incorporating directionality of edges and considering three levels of analysis for balance assessment: triads, subgroups, and the whole network. For triad-level balance, we develop a new measure by utilizing semicycles that satisfy the condition of transitivity. For subgroup-level balance, we propose measures of cohesiveness (intra-group solidarity) and divisiveness (inter-group antagonism) to capture balance within and among subgroups. For network-level balance, we re-purpose the normalized line index to incorporate directionality and assess balance based on the proportion of edges whose position suits balance. Through comprehensive computational analyses, we quantify, analyze, and compare patterns of social structure in triads, subgroups, and the whole network across a range of social settings. We then apply our multilevel framework to examine balance in temporal and multilayer networks to demonstrates the generalizability of our approach. In most cases, we find relatively high balance across the three levels; providing another confirmation of balance theory. We also deliver empirical evidence for the argument that balance at different levels is not the same social phenomenon measured at different scales, but represents different properties (triadic balance, internal cohesion and external division of subgroups, and overall network polarization), and should therefore be evaluated independently from one another. We propose a comprehensive yet parsimonious approach to address this need.

Keywords: World, computational social science, computer science, conflicts, graph theory, information networks, information sciences, mathematical models, network science, operations research, optimization models, social conflicts, social network, social structure, social system
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