Lazer, David, Brian Rubineau, Carol Chetkovich, Nancy Katz, and Michael Neblo. "Networks and Political Attitudes: Structure, Influence, and Co-evolution." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP08-044, September 2008.
How do political views and social affiliations co-evolve? A long stream of research has focused on the relationship between political views and social affiliations, however, it is typically difficult to discern the causal relationship between views and affiliations. Here we use longitudinal attitudinal and whole network data collected at critical times (notably, at the inception of the system) to pinpoint and specify the determinants of attitudes and affiliations. We find significant conformity tendencies: individuals shift their political views toward the political views of their associates. This conformity is driven by social ties rather than task ties. We also find that, while individuals tend to associate with similar others, political views are notably less a basis for associational choices than demographic and institutional factors.