Our Focus: Applying Network Analysis

Our work supports RAND researchers—and their clients—by applying methodological rigor to sometimes confounding questions. Here are some of our primary methods, with some examples and links.

Network Analysis

Network analysis is a set of methods and theories that helps researchers understand relationships between and among individuals and interconnected systems, and how those relationships affect outcomes. Our researchers use network analysis to help law enforcement, promote cardiovascular health, and reduce substance use, among many other topics.

  • Kid with skateboard sitting on the curb with friends and family in the background

    Health Implications of Social Networks for Children Living in Public Housing

    Social networks were significantly associated with alcohol consumption among teens living in public housing and with mental distress among girls, underscoring the potential importance of networks for the health of vulnerable children.

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    Developing a Manual for Cultural Analysis

    Drawing from cognitive and evolutionary anthropology traditions, the authors describe a set of tools capable of dealing with cultural data at various emergent levels, ranging from variation among individuals within local subcultures to small- and large-scale network topologies and finally to longstanding lineages of inherited cultural information. This is the first time these techniques have been organized into a single manual structured around a formally theorized notion of culture.

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Complex Systems Analysis

Complex systems analysis allows researchers to study the component parts of a system—for example, schools in a district—and their interactions with each other and in relation to the system as a whole. We have applied complex systems analysis to topics as diverse as climate change, urban mobility, and defense resource planning.

  • Social network concept, people connected via dotted lines

    A General Agent-Based Model of Social Learning

    Social networks may affect individual decisions in such a way as to also produce profound effects on decisionmaking at the population level. Researchers describe a general agent-based model (ABM) for studying social influence, and use that ABM to explore the relationship between micro-influence and macro-dynamics.

  • Teenagers hang out in an alley

    Adolescents and Marijuana: Factors Contributing to Use, Non-Use, and Cessation

    With marijuana use increasing among American adolescents, a study examines the factors associated with quitting—including neighborhood, family, peer network, and individual factors. Results highlight the importance of such factors and show that relocated and isolated individuals may face challenges with cessation.

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Social Media Analysis

Social media analysis allows researchers to analyze data obtained through social media, or evaluate the social media platforms themselves, to understand how user-created online communities share information and influence members. We work with the Center for Qualitative and Mixed Methods and the Center for Scalable Computing and Analysis to develop tools to analyze social media data, understand how to fight disinformation online, and more.

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