The Matthew Effect


Stories from a connected world – The Matthew Effect

According to sociologist Robert Merton, among two equally good scientists, the more famous gets more credit, the one with most awards will be the most likely to win other prizes, and the one who has received the most grants will be the one to receive even more. Merton called it the Matthew Effect.

In 1965, physicist Derek de Solla Price found evidence of this effect. When a scientist chooses what old paper should be cited in a new article, she tends to choose already highly cited papers. So, in the network of scientific papers, those that have many links eventually get even more.

This phenomenon goes beyond the world of science. For example, a director that manages many companies will probably get offers to join even more boards. Or a blog that receives many links from other websites will become famous and get even more connections. Very often, in the world of networks, the rich get richer.

Want to know more? Read “Networks: A Very Short Introduction

(Adapted from “Einstein a la platja”. Thanks to Barcelona Televisi√≥)

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