Beyond Known Bonds: Unveiling the Surprising Dynamics of Core Discussion Networks

In recent years, researchers have turned their focus to understanding the intricacies of the core discussion network, the circle of friends and family individuals rely on when discussing important matters. For nearly three decades, it has been assumed that this network consists primarily of an individual’s closest and most significant connections. However, a new study, based on original data from an online survey of 2000 respondents, challenges this assumption and provides valuable insights into the composition and dynamics of core discussion networks.

Diversity within Core Discussion Networks:

Contrary to the established belief, the study reveals that 45% of the core discussion network consists of individuals whom respondents do not personally consider important. This surprising revelation includes professionals such as doctors, co-workers, and spiritual leaders, suggesting that people confide in others without necessarily having a profound emotional attachment.

Mobilization Strategies:

The findings suggest that individuals engage in discussions on important matters with non-close connections for two primary reasons: targeted mobilization based on knowledge and opportune mobilization when these individuals are available during crucial moments. This challenges the conventional notion that people exclusively reserve significant issues for those they personally deem important.

Questioning Established Beliefs:

The study challenges the widely held belief that intimate matters are exclusively discussed with close connections. Instead, the core discussion network is portrayed as a combination of close ties, knowledgeable individuals, and those available due to routine activities.

Specialization in Confiding Patterns:

Individuals tend to discuss important matters with knowledgeable individuals, irrespective of their emotional closeness. This indicates a specialization and differentiation in confiding patterns, with specific topics dominating discussions, such as family, career, finances, happiness, and health.

Pragmatic Approach to Confiding:

Individuals exhibit pragmatic or opportunistic tendencies, turning to those available when important matters arise. The decision to confide is influenced by social context and interactional settings, underscoring the importance of considering the broader context in social network studies.


In concluding this exploration into the intricacies of core discussion networks, the findings of the study paint a rich tapestry of connections that transcends known bonds. The assumption that meaningful conversations exclusively unfold within the realm of close connections has been convincingly challenged by the research, providing profound insights into the diverse dynamics of these networks.

In essence, the study challenges preconceived notions, highlighting the richness and depth of meaningful conversations that extend beyond known bonds. It unveils the value inherent in one-on-one conversations with individuals who may initially be perceived as strangers or non-close connections. This shift in perspective encourages a broader exploration of the meaningful connections that can be forged with a diverse array of individuals, ultimately contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of core discussion networks in our everconnected world.


Small, M. L. (2013). Weak ties and the core discussion network: Why people regularly discuss important matters with unimportant alters. Social Networks, 35(3), 470–483.