Emergent patterns in nature and society

Company and emotion: a mechanism for social cohesion

Like bits of matter floating in space, humans cluster into communities. These communities serve several purposes: they offer protection and security, they provide resources both physical and emotional, and they give a sense of meaning and belonging. They also hold an arguably even greater power: to actively influence the way we interpret the world. The most dazzling firework can seem muted if viewed alone; the most unremarkable vista inspiring with good friends. Being with others adds a Technicolor tinge to the drab mundanity of daily life. It would seem, then, that the best way to go about choosing your next concert should be to focus not on the fame of the headliner but on the quality of the company

The quote comes from Scientific American article: Without Friends or Family, even Extraordinary Experiences are Disappointing. Lot’s has been said on social networks literature about social contagion and how modularity pervades social networks. However, what is the mechanism behind is not so clear. An obvious one is preferential attachment, or ‘birds of a feather flock together’. Yet why? The enhancing emotions story behind the scientific american article can be a complementary mechanism; we not only feel with our bodies but our experience is enhanced when experienced in company – socially.


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