Jason Wiese, Jun-Ki Min, Jason I. Hong, and John Zimmerman


Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)


March 2015


How effective are call and SMS logs in modeling tie strength? Frequency and duration of communication has long been cited as a major aspect of tie strength. Intuitively, this makes sense: people communicate with those that they feel close to. Highly cited research papers have pushed this idea further, using communication as a direct proxy for tie strength. However, this operationalization has not been validated. Our work evaluates this assumption. We collected call and SMS logs and ground truth relationship data from 36 participants. Consistent with theory, we found that frequent or long-duration communication likely indicates a strong tie. However, the use of call and SMS logs produced many errors in separating strong and weak ties, suggesting this approach is incomplete. Follow-up interviews indicate fundamental challenges for inferring tie strength from communication logs.

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