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J R Soc Interface. 2014 Sep 6;11(98):20140378. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2014.0378.

The Matthew effect in empirical data.

Author information

1
Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University of Maribor, Koroška cesta 160, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia matjaz.perc@uni-mb.si.

Abstract

The Matthew effect describes the phenomenon that in societies, the rich tend to get richer and the potent even more powerful. It is closely related to the concept of preferential attachment in network science, where the more connected nodes are destined to acquire many more links in the future than the auxiliary nodes. Cumulative advantage and success-breads-success also both describe the fact that advantage tends to beget further advantage. The concept is behind the many power laws and scaling behaviour in empirical data, and it is at the heart of self-organization across social and natural sciences. Here, we review the methodology for measuring preferential attachment in empirical data, as well as the observations of the Matthew effect in patterns of scientific collaboration, socio-technical and biological networks, the propagation of citations, the emergence of scientific progress and impact, career longevity, the evolution of common English words and phrases, as well as in education and brain development. We also discuss whether the Matthew effect is due to chance or optimization, for example related to homophily in social systems or efficacy in technological systems, and we outline possible directions for future research.

KEYWORDS:

Matthew effect; cumulative advantage; empirical data; power law; preferential attachment; self-organization

PMID:
24990288
PMCID:
PMC4233686
DOI:
10.1098/rsif.2014.0378
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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