In what traits do people interact with others who are similar to them in completely anonymous online communication? Can those traits contribute to greater exchange of opinion and information across the sociodemographic boundaries that often limit interaction between social strata? To answer this question concerning online homophily, we combined survey data on 7,287 users (aged 18 and above) of a Korean online dating advice platform with their behavioral data from June 2015 to August 2015 and explored whether advice exchange occurred between users with similar sociodemographic and personality traits. On this platform, two types of interactions occurred as follows: (1) responses to a randomly distributed problem submitted by an advice seeker and (2) the seeker's indication of approval of any of the responses given. The study found that (1) a receiver was more likely to respond to problems submitted by seekers of a comparable age and that (2) seekers were more likely to approve of a response if the seeker and receiver had similar educational backgrounds. By contrast, homophily based on personality traits was not observed even though some personality traits significantly affected the likelihood of both response and approval. Our findings suggest that online communication may breed sociodemographic homophily, whether based on age or education, more than expected or intended while not easily fostering alternative forms of homophily, such as personality homophily, which can potentially cut across borders dividing sociodemographic groups.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2016S1A3A2925033).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Applied Psychology
- Human-Computer Interaction
- Computer Science Applications