Volume 78, Number 6, June 2007
Article Number 68005
Number of page(s) 5
Section Interdisciplinary Physics and Related Areas of Science and Technology
Published online 04 June 2007
EPL, 78 (2007) 68005
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/78/68005

The spread of gossip in American schools

P. G. Lind1, 2, L. R. da Silva3, J. S. Andrade jr.4 and H. J. Herrmann4, 5

1  Institute for Computer Physics, University of Stuttgart - 70569 Stuttgart, Germany
2  Centro de Física Teórica e Computacional - Avenida Professor Gama Pinto 2, 1649-003 Lisbon, Portugal
3  Departamento de Física, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte - 59072-970 Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil
4  Departamento de Física, Universidade Federal do Ceará - 60451-970 Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil
5  IfB, HIF E12, ETH Hönggerberg - CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland

received 5 December 2006; accepted in final form 8 May 2007; published June 2007
published online 4 June 2007

Gossip is defined as a rumor which specifically targets one individual and essentially only propagates within its friendship connections. How fast and how far a gossip can spread is for the first time assessed quantitatively in this study. For that purpose we introduce the "spread factor" and study it on empirical networks of school friendships as well as on various models for social connections. We discover that there exists an ideal number of friendship connections an individual should have to minimize the danger of gossip propagation.

89.75.Hc - Networks and geneological trees.
89.65.Ef - Social organizations; anthropology.
87.23.Ge - Dynamics of social systems.

© Europhysics Letters Association 2007