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Matthew Brashears

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. 2008
University of Arizona

366 Uris Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York

(607) 255-4925

Areas of Interest:

  • Social Network Analysis
  • Social Psychology
  • Gender
  • Political Sociology

Home : Faculty : Matthew Brashears

Curriculum Vitae

Recent Courses:

Soc 2180 American Community and Society
Soc 3010/6010 Evaluating Statistical Evidence
Soc 3350 Covert Social Networks
Soc 6110 Introduction to Network Theory and Methods
Soc 6410 Methods for Social Network Analysis


I will be on leave during the 2015-2016 academic year so that I can assume an Associate Professor of Sociology position at the University of South Carolina. I can still be reached at my Cornell email address during this time.


I am primarily interested in social networks and social psychology. How do our cognitive assets and limitations shape our social network structures? How does innovation emerge from conformity? I use a variety of experimental, quasi-experimental, and non-experimental methods to investigate these issues both with student populations and representative samples of larger groups. My research also addresses social isolation, the differences in network structures between males and females, and the amounts and types of resources that individuals can gain access to via their networks.

I am the Principal Investigator for a $796,728, four-year research project funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The goal of this project is to develop new ways to identify covert social networks (CSNs), particularly those that are preparing a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack. We hope to both develop methods for identifying individuals who are engaged in such efforts and refine methods for identifying members of a CSN from an initial point of entry. You can read more about the project on our website, or listen to me discuss it with Chris Dorobek. In the Spring of 2014 this project was granted a multi-year extension worth an additional $629,020, bringing the total project budget for six years to roughly $1.4 million.

I am also the Principal Investigator for a two-year research project funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal of this project is to explore how individual cognitive processes, including memory, help determine social network structure. You can read more about this project here.

I am currently the Director of the Social Science Research Laboratory, a shared laboratory space available to members of the Sociology department and, when possible, other members of the Cornell community. If you wish to participate in Sociology experiments for cash or course credit, or apply to be an undergraduate Research Assistant (RA), please visit the SSRL homepage. If you are interested in conducting research using the SSRL, please contact me to discuss your plans.

My research deals with social networks, quantitative methodology, social psychology, gender, terrorism and political sociology.

I teach courses in statistics, social network theory & methods, covert social networks, and American community and society.

Selected Publications

Brashears, Matthew E. and Eric Quintane. 2015. "The microstructures of network recall: How social networks are encoded and represented in human memory." Social Networks. doi 10.1016/j.socnet.2014.11.003

Simpson, Brent, Matthew E. Brashears, Eric Gladstone and Ashley Harrell. 2014. "Birds of Different Feathers Cooperate Together: No Evidence for Altruism Homophily in Networks." Sociological Science 1: 542-564. doi 10.15195/v1.a30

Brashears, Matthew E. 2014. "'Trivial' Topics and Rich Ties: The Relationship Between Discussion Topic, Alter Role, and Resource Availability Using the 'Important Matters' Name Generator." Sociological Science, 1: 493-511. doi:10.15195/v1.a27

Brashears, Matthew E. 2013. "Humans use Compression Heuristics to Improve the Recall of Social Networks." Nature Scientific Reports, 3: 1513. doi:10.1038/srep01513

Brashears, Matthew E. 2011. "Small networks and high isolation?: A reexamination of American discussion networks" Social Networks, 33(4): 331-341.

McPherson, Miller, Lynn Smith-Lovin and Matthew E. Brashears. 2009. "Models and Marginals: Using Survey Evidence to Study Social Networks." American Sociological Review, 74(4): 670-681.

Brashears, Matthew E. 2008. "Sex, Society, and Association: A Cross- National Examination of Status Construction Theory." Social Psychology Quarterly. 71(1): 72-85.

McPherson, J. Miller, Lynn Smith-Lovin, and Matthew E. Brashears. 2006. "Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades." American Sociological Review. 71(3): 353-375.