Human mobility and social ties in context: from places to personality

Stich, Christoph (2020). Human mobility and social ties in context: from places to personality. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Recent years saw 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 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 still 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 used 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 utilised a variety of methods for analysing the data ranging from applied machine learning over inferential statistics to social network analysis. Using this dataset, I found that the qualities of places were very informative for understanding future encounters between students, that the longer-term dynamics shaped both social and mobility behaviour, and that while personality had a significant effect on the observed regularity of behaviour, its effect was rather small.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)


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