Measuring social integration and tie strength with smartphone and survey data

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Recordings of smartphone use for contacts are increasingly being used as alternative or supplementary measurement methods for social interactions and social relations in the health sciences. Less work has been done to understand how these measures compare with widely used survey-based information. Using data from the Copenhagen Network Study, we investigated whether derived survey and smartphone measures on two widely studied concepts; Social integration and Tie strength were associated. The study population included 737 college students (mean age 21.6 years, Standard deviation: 2.6), who were followed with surveys and continuous recordings of smartphone usage over a one-month period. We derived self-reported and smartphone measures of social integration (social role diversity, social network size), and tie strength (contact frequency, duration and tie reciprocity). Logistic regression models were used to assess the associations between smartphone derived and self-reported measures adjusting for gender, age and co-habitation. Larger call and text message networks were associated with having a high self-reported social role diversity, and a high self-reported social contact frequency was likewise associated with having both frequent call and text message interactions, longer call duration and a higher level of reciprocity in call and text message communication. Self-reported aspects of social relations and smartphone measures of social interactions have considerable overlap supporting a measurement of similar underlying concepts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0200678
Issue number8
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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