A new study shows that the strength of your friend circle and the social networks of an individual predict more about the health, happiness and well being of an individual than the wearables, which record the steps, sleep, and other pieces of information. The study says that the strength and structure of the friend circle of a person tell more about one’s health than a Fitbit.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. It suggests that the wellbeing and mental health of a person can be more accurately determined by the strength and structure of its friend circle than any other wearable device which records data like the number of steps, activity level, sleep and other behavioral. According to a statement given by the lead author of the study, Nitesh V. Chawla, he says that “What we found was the social network structure provides a significant improvement in predictability of wellness states of an individual over just using the data derived from wearables, like the number of steps or heart rate.”

To conduct the study, the participants were asked to analyze their health by recording the data while wearing a Fitbit. It includes data like steps, heart rate, sleep, and activity level and also self-assessment of their feelings of stress, happiness, and positivity. And after these records, they were analyzed using machine learning technique. In this technique, the team analyzed the social behavior and strength of the group of a person including degree, centrality, clustering coefficient and the number of triangles.

The study revealed that social network structures, heart rate, number of steps and level of activity are correlated and social structure shows more accuracy in determining the health of a person. They stated that though the device provides health information, social information is also required to predict the mental health of a person.


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