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Six degrees of separation now three?

Have social networking and social media cut six degrees of separation down to three?

French mobile carrier O2 thinks so, based on the results of a study they commissioned and discussed in this recent press release:

“O2 commissioned social organisational specialist Jeff Rodrigues to examine the impact of technology on how connected people are. The research included over 50 hours of in-depth interviews with adults across three different age groups, (18-25, 35-45, 55+) and found that the conventional notion of six degrees of separation is out of date…All respondents were asked to make contact with an unknown person from destinations selected at random from across the globe using only personal connections. By using their shared interest networks the participants were able, on average, to make the connection in three person-to-person links.”

Without more information on the research design, of course, we can’t really know the quality of the research or the conclusions. And the funding source makes us cautious.

Still, it seems possible that the six degrees originally coined in 1967 might have lowered in this “world is flat” era. Forty is a lot of years.

And, if true, the implications for practice-building are intriguing and promising. Says O2 in its press release, “What the study has brought to light is that the way we now interact means it’s never been easier to make connections and build networks of contacts.”

Are you capitalizing on social media and social networking to build connections and contact with prospective clients?


Tammy Lenski

Dr. Tammy Lenski helps individuals, pairs, teams, and audiences navigate disagreement better, address friction, and build alignment. Her current work centers on creating the conditions for robust collaboration and sound decisions while fostering resilient personal and professional relationships. Her conflict resolution podcast and blog, Disagree Better, are available at… MORE >

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