A Relational Event Framework for Social Action
Social behavior over short time scales is frequently understood in terms of actions, which can be thought of as discrete events in which one individual emits a behavior directed at one or more other entities in his or her environment (possibly including himself or herself). Here, we introduce a highly flexible framework for modeling actions within social settings, which permits likelihood-based inference for behavioral mechanisms with complex dependence. Examples are given for the parameterization of base activity levels, recency, persistence, preferential attachment, transitive/cyclic interaction, and participation shifts within the relational event framework. Parameter estimation is discussed both for data in which an exact history of events is available, and for data in which only event sequences are known. The utility of the framework is illustrated via an application to dynamic modeling of responder radio communications during the early hours of the World Trade Center disaster.