Correlations between human mobility and social interaction reveal general activity patterns

A day in the life of a person involves a broad range of activities which are common across many people. Going beyond diurnal cycles, a central question is: to what extent do individuals act according to patterns shared across an entire population? Here we investigate the interplay between different activity types, namely communication, motion, and physical proximity by analyzing data collected from smartphones distributed among 638 individuals. We explore two central questions: Which underlying principles govern the formation of the activity patterns? Are the patterns specific to each individual or shared across the entire population? We find that statistics of the entire population allows us to successfully predict 71% of the activity and 85% of the inactivity involved in communication, mobility, and physical proximity. Surprisingly, individual level statistics only result in marginally better predictions, indicating that a majority of activity patterns are shared across our sample population. Finally, we predict short-term activity patterns using a generalized linear model, which suggests that a simple linear description might be sufficient to explain a wide range of actions, whether they be of social or of physical character.


Mollgaard A, Lehmann S, Mathiesen J (2017) Correlations between human mobility and social interaction reveal general activity patterns. PLoS ONE 12(12): e0188973.