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  • Author: Rachel Curtis x
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Sarah Edney, Tim Olds, Jillian Ryan, Ronald Plotnikoff, Corneel Vandelanotte, Rachel Curtis and Carol Maher

Background: Homophily is the tendency to associate with friends similar to ourselves. This study explored the effects of homophily on team formation in a physical activity challenge in which “captains” signed up their Facebook friends to form teams. Methods: This study assessed whether participants (n = 430) were more similar to their teammates than to nonteammates with regard to age, sex, education level, body mass index, self-reported and objectively measured physical activity, and negative emotional states; and whether captains were more similar to their own teammates than to nonteammates. Variability indices were calculated for each team, and a hypothetical variability index, representing that which would result from randomly assembled teams, was also calculated. Results: Within-team variability was less than that for random teams for all outcomes except education level and depression, with differences (SDs) ranging from +0.15 (self-reported physical activity) to +0.47 (age) (P < .001 to P = .001). Captains were similar to their teammates except in regard to age, with captains being 2.6 years younger (P = .003). Conclusions: Results support hypotheses that self-selected teams are likely to contain individuals with similar characteristics, highlighting potential to leverage team-based health interventions to target specific populations by instructing individuals with risk characteristics to form teams to help change behavior.