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© 2020 The Authors. The human social world is orders of magnitude smaller than our highly urbanized world might lead us to suppose. In addition, human social networks have a very distinct fractal structure similar to that observed in other primates. In part, this reflects a cognitive constraint, and in part a time constraint, on the capacity for interaction. Structured networks of this kind have a significant effect on the rates of transmission of both disease and information. Because the cognitive mechanism underpinning network structure is based on trust, internal and external threats that undermine trust or constrain interaction inevitably result in the fragmentation and restructuring of networks. In contexts where network sizes are smaller, this is likely to have significant impacts on psychological and physical health risks.

Original publication




Journal article


Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences

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