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Arnout van de Rijt

van de Rijt

Associate Professor (joint with IACS)
Ph.D. 2007, Cornell
(631) 632-7704

Areas of Interest

Social networks, cumulative advantage


My research exploits novel data collection opportunities enabled by present-day communication technology to answer longstanding questions about the origins of social order and societal inequality.

My work on social networks seeks to understand complex patterns of social connectedness as the aggregate combination of many individuals following elementary decision rules on whom to connect to and whom to avoid. Examples of such decision rules are “a friend of a friend is a friend”, “reach out to people you wouldn’t normally hang out with”, “avoid being in the minority”, and "cultivate competing ties as to improve your bargaining position" . Agent-based computational models show that the networks that emerge in the aggregate as the result of such purposive action often exhibit undesirable structural features that no individual intended.

In my research on success-breeds-success processes I bestow minor financial and social successes (donations, awards, endorsements) upon random and unsuspecting recipients to reveal how this produces arbitrary inequality by raising their future success expectations vis-a-vis equally talented non-recipients. Results show that these self-reinforcing dynamics have a large distortionary effect on the meritocratic allocation of resources.
For my contributions to social network analysis I received the 2010 Freeman Award for Distinguished Junior Scholarship and several best article awards. My research is supported by the National Science Foundation through award #1340122 and has been published in American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Selected publications

Vincenz Frey and Arnout van de Rijt. 2016. "Arbitrary Inequality in Reputation Sysstems." Nature Scientific Reports 6:38304. pdf

Eran Shor, Arnout van de Rijt, Alex Miltsov, Vivek Kulkarni, and Steven Skiena. "A Paper Ceiling: Explaining the Persistent Underrepresentation of Females in Printed News Coverage."  American Sociological Review, forthcoming.

Arnout van de Rijt, Soong Moon Kang, Michael Restivo and Akshay Patil. "Field Experiments of Success-Breeds-Success Dynamics." Forthcoming in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Press: Economist, Time, Daily News, Daily Mail, National Geographic

Arnout van de Rijt, Eran Shor, Charles Ward and Steven Skiena. "Only Fifteen Minutes? The Social Stratification of Fame in English-Language Media." American Sociological Review 78(2):266-89. Press: LA TimesToronto StarGlobe and Mail Newsdaypodcast pdf

Michael Restivo and Arnout van de Rijt. 2012. “Experimental Study of Informal Rewards in Peer Production.” PLoS ONE 7(3): e34358. pdf

Arnout van de Rijt. 2011. “The Micro-Macro Link for the Theory of Structural Balance.” Journal of Mathematical Sociology35(1):94-113. pdf

Arnout van de Rijt, Michael W. Macy, and David Siegel. 2009. "Comment: Neighborhood Chance and Neighborhood Change". American Journal of Sociology 114(4):1166-80. pdf

Vincent Buskens and Arnout van de Rijt. 2008. “Dynamics of Networks if Everyone Strives for Structural Holes.” American Journal of Sociology 114(2):371-407. Discussed on This paper received the 2009 Best Article Award from the European Academy of Sociology and an honorary mention in the 2009 ASA Math. Soc. Best Article competition. Related work with Robb Willer earned the 2004 ASA Math. Soc. Graduate Student Best Paper Award. pdf

Arnout van de Rijt and Michael W. Macy. 2006. "Power and Dependence in Intimate Exchange." Social Forces 84(3):1455-70. pdf