Homophily is the tendency for there to be higher rates of contact between similar people than between dissimilar people. It is the social process reflected in that old bit of folk wisdom: “Birds of a feather flock together.” Homophily is crucial to the study of group processes because it conditions every interaction. It affects who people interact with, how interactions are structured, the process of group formation, and the course of interactions between groups. This entry describes the basic types of homophily, their origins, and their social implications.

The observation that “like attracts like” is by no means a recent pronouncement. It was Plato who stated that “similarity begets friendship” and Aristotle who noted that some people like those who are like themselves. Stated another way, ...

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