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What are “social brokers” and “weak ties”? And what do they mean in the job market?

Here’s how the study worked:

Participants were given a “brokerage score,” based on their ties to disparate groups. Wood’s team found that the higher a person’s score, the more likely they were to come from a diverse country.

International students from places with greater current ethnic diversity and a history of extensive cultural mixing were more likely to become social brokers than international students from less diverse nations. National students’ brokerage scores were also positively related to the ancestral diversity of the US county they identified as their home.

Wood said the findings are important because they show the inherent value of living in a culturally diverse community. “It gives you wider social bandwidth,” she said. “It makes you more adaptable and socially flexible, so no matter what situation you find yourself in, you’ll be able to connect.”

Places around the world

Wood’s team quantified ancestral diversity in different ways.

We did this separately for US students and international students,” who made up about 35% of the test group, she said.

“With the international students, we asked questions about the type of long history, migration [and] the migratory patterns that led to the current population of their country of origin,” Wood said. “Japan is a classic example of a place where most of the people living there today are descended from someone who lived in Japan 500 years ago. Whereas a place like Jamaica, Brazil or the United States, many places in the Western Hemisphere, are made up of people who did not live there 500 years ago Our ancestors lived all over the world.

Social brokers and networking to land that job

Last month, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, released a massive study that found that people are more likely to land jobs using what are called “weak ties” – in other words. , those people who may be friends of friends, but not family or close friends.

Wood’s new study, “Cultural Diversity Broadens Social Networks,” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, reinforces this conclusion.

“We know that weak ties – which are your acquaintances, people who may not be your best friends, but people you have in your phone contacts – are really important for networking for a job. And the weak ties are probably the ties that make a person a broker,” she said.

Wood said there is plenty of research in economics and sociology to support the importance of the counterintuitively named phenomena.

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