Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Close call: Bad weather drives up phone calls to our nearest and dearest

Date:
October 10, 2012
Source:
Newcastle University
Summary:
Who we call and how long we speak to them changes with the weather, according to new research by experts in the UK. Analysing the call patterns of 1.3 million mobile phone users, the team found that in 'uncomfortable' weather -- such as very hot, humid, wet or cold weather -- call length increased but the number of people we made contact with went down.

Who we call and how long we speak to them changes with the weather, according to new research by experts at Newcastle University.

Analysing the call patterns of 1.3 million mobile phone users, the team found that in 'uncomfortable' weather -- such as very hot, humid, wet or cold weather -- call length increased but the number of people we made contact with went down.

Apparently "isolating" ourselves during more unpleasant weather, research lead Dr Santi Phithakkitnukoon said the data showed that we were also more likely to contact our close friends and family than our wider network.

Publishing their findings today in the online academic journal PLOS ONE, Dr Phithakkitnukoon said the study offered an insight into how phone use data sets could help us understand human relations and interactions.

"The fact that mobile phones have become an indispensible part of many people's lives means that they provide an opportunity to measure human behaviour and social dynamics, like never before," explains Dr Phithakkitnukoon, an expert in Social Computing at Newcastle University's Culture Lab.

"The weather is well-known to influence human behaviour. Our mood, health and how active are all vary with the weather. Our research suggests our mobile phone addiction is also susceptible to changes in the weather.

"We found that during uncomfortable weather our "ringing anyone" behaviour declined, talking on the phone for longer to our close friends and family more than our wider network."

The study used anonymised data from over 1.3 million mobile phone users in Portugal. Using call logs and location traces, the team then categorised the calls into two types: strong social ties and weak social ties.

"Strong ties are people who are socially close to us and whose social circles closely overlap with our own," explains Dr Phithakkitnukoon.

"The key to this is not call length but reciprocal calls -- that is how often we call them and, crucially, how often they call us back. By factoring in the two-way 'chatter', we could determine not only strong and weak ties but also eliminate the random 'noise' such as business calls which are often long but are generally not returned."

Using the same data set, the team have also suggested that mobile phones could play a vital role in helping planners to develop smarter cities that closer reflect the way we live, work and play in the 21st century.

Analysing how our social ties influence the way we travel a second paper also published in PLOS ONE, revealed that people tended to travel within just 20km of their nearest social ties -- dubbed their 'geo-social' radius.

Dr Phithakkitnukoon said the study shed new light on the interplay between people's mobility and their social networks.

"Unlike a fixed phone which is shared, a mobile phone is a personal device associated with an individual so it gives us a much more accurate picture of people's social networks. But more importantly, mobiles are geo-located by the serving antennas and this allows us to build up a picture of where we live and travel in relation to our friends and family.

"We found that 80% of places visited were within an individual's geo-social radius of just 20km. In densely populated areas such as Lisbon and Porto, this distance fell to just 7km.

"If we can use this information to build up a picture of people's movements -- the places they visit their daily travel patterns -- then we can use this information to help shape our cities and transport systems of the future."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Newcastle University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Santi Phithakkitnukoon, Tuck W. Leong, Zbigniew Smoreda, Patrick Olivier. Weather Effects on Mobile Social Interactions: A Case Study of Mobile Phone Users in Lisbon, Portugal. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (10): e45745 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045745

Cite This Page:

Newcastle University. "Close call: Bad weather drives up phone calls to our nearest and dearest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010172126.htm>.
Newcastle University. (2012, October 10). Close call: Bad weather drives up phone calls to our nearest and dearest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010172126.htm
Newcastle University. "Close call: Bad weather drives up phone calls to our nearest and dearest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010172126.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins