Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Nature Communications


Tuck School of Business

Additional Department

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences


Human social networks are overwhelmingly homophilous: individuals tend to befriend others who are similar to them in terms of a range of physical attributes (e.g., age, gender). Do similarities among friends reflect deeper similarities in how we perceive, interpret, and respond to the world? To test whether friendship, and more generally, social network proximity, is associated with increased similarity of real-time mental responding, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan subjects’ brains during free viewing of naturalistic movies. Here we show evidence for neural homophily: neural responses when viewing audiovisual movies are exceptionally similar among friends, and that similarity decreases with increasing distance in a real-world social network. These results suggest that we are exceptionally similar to our friends in how we perceive and respond to the world around us, which has implications for interpersonal influence and attraction.



Original Citation

Parkinson C, Kleinbaum AM, Wheatley T. Similar neural responses predict friendship. Nat Commun. 2018 Jan 30;9(1):332. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02722-7. PMID: 29382820; PMCID: PMC5790806.