Sex differences in social focus across the life cycle in humans

Kunal Bhattacharya*, Asim Ghosh, Daniel Monsivais, Robin I. M. Dunbar, Kimmo Kaski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
119 Downloads (Pure)


Age and gender are two important factors that play crucial roles in the way organisms allocate their social effort. In this study, we analyse a large mobile phone dataset to explore the way life history influences human sociality and the way social networks are structured. Our results indicate that these aspects of human behaviour are strongly related to age and gender such that younger individuals have more contacts and, among them, males more than females. However, the rate of decrease in the number of contacts with age differs between males and females, such that there is a reversal in the number of contacts around the late 30s. We suggest that this pattern can be attributed to the difference in reproductive investments that are made by the two sexes. We analyse the inequality in social investment patterns and suggest that the age- and genderrelated differences we find reflect the constraints imposed by reproduction in a context where time (a form of social capital) is limited.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160097
Number of pages9
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Data science
  • Life history
  • Sex differences
  • Social capital
  • Social investment


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