Arnout van de Rijt

I am Professor of Sociology at the European University Institute. I received my Ph.D. in Sociology from Cornell University in 2007 and worked until 2016 as Assistant and Associate Professor of Sociology at Stony Brook University in the USA, where I co-led the Center for Computational Social Science. From 2016 to 2019 I worked as Professor of Sociology at Utrecht University, where I led the Computational Sociology focus area.

My research interests span the broad areas of social network analysis, computational social science, and social stratification.  My work on cumulative advantage investigates how small, random differences in early success between people can with time, through positive feedback, grow into large gaps between the successful and unsuccessful; and how a person or thing can remain highly popular when a less popular alternative is of higher quality. My research on social networks shows how large, complex network structures emerge as the by-product of many individuals’ decisions on whom to interact with and whom to avoid. I’m proud to have received the Lynton Freeman (2010) and Raymond Boudon (2017) early career awards.


October 2020

My paper with Vincenz Frey on the Wisdom of the Crowd is now out in Management Science. We find that especially in small groups (teams, juries, expert panels) social influence can prevent group dynamics from identifying the correct course of action.

June 2020

Very happy to have been awarded the 2020 Robert K. Merton award for best paper in analytical sociology for my piece on self-correcting dynamics published last year in AJS!

April 2020

Trying to help with the Coronacrisis using social network analysis. We’re investigating what targeted interventions might work. Our (very preliminary) research on reducing long-range contact and targeting high-contact individuals got some attention (Bloomberg, Volkskrant) and may hopefully help policy makers formulate a comprehensive exit strategy.

February 2020

Talking about my work on luck and success on ABC’s The Science Show

August 2019

I’m very pleased the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI) just awarded Thijs Bol, Mathijs de Vaan and me their paper of the year award, for our article “The Matthew Effect in Science Funding” (PNAS 2018)!

July 2019

I’m very pleased the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO) just awarded my collaborators and I a 380,000 Euro grant to study the energy transition! ( )

May 2019

It was just announced our article “The Matthew Effect in Science Funding” (with Thijs Bol and Mathijs de Vaan, PNAS, 2018) was awarded the Coleman Outstanding Article Award!

April 2019

My article “Self-Reinforcing Dynamics in Social Influence Processes” which came out in American Journal of Sociology this month show that if a bad thing is temporarily more popular than a good thing, in the long run the good thing will tend to regain its natural dominance in popularity.

April 2018

Our paper on the Matthew effect in science funding is now out in PNAS! We find that luck with early-career funding has a big ripple effect on subsequent academic success. It’s also discussed in Nature, Volkskrant and Trouw

March 2018

The data and code from our study “Arbitrary Inequality in Reputation Systems” are now available at the Open Science Framework.

Selected publications

Judith Kas, Rense Corten, and Arnout van de Rijt. 2020. “Reputations in Mixed-Role Markets: A Theory and an Experimental Test.” Social Science Research 85:102366. pdf data&code

Gianluca Manzo and Arnout van de Rijt. 2020. “Halting SARS-CoV-2 by Targeting High-Contact Individuals.” Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 23(4): 10. pdf code Press: Bloomberg Bloomberg

Vincenz Frey and Arnout van de Rijt. “Social Influence Undermines Crowd Wisdom in Sequential Decision-Making.” Management Science. pdf data&code

Arnout van de Rijt. 2019. “Self-Correcting Dynamics in Social Influence Processes.” American Journal of Sociology 124(5):1468-95. pdf (pre-publication)

Thijs Bol, Mathijs de Vaan and Arnout van de Rijt. 2018. “The Matthew Effect in Science Funding.” PNAS 115:4887-90. pdf data&code Press: NatureVolkskrant, Trouw

Vincenz Frey and Arnout van de Rijt. 2016. “Arbitrary Inequality in Reputation Systems.” Scientific Reports 6: 38304. pdf data & code

Eran Shor, Arnout van de Rijt, Alex Miltsov, Vivek Kulkarni and Steven Skiena. 2015. “A Paper Ceiling: Explaining the Persistent Underrepresentation of Female Names in Printed News Coverage.” American Sociological Review 80(5): 960-84. pdf Press: The GuardianYahooNPR WisconsinPacific StandardRAICIBL-FMFinancial ExpressBusiness StandardDaily Beast

Damon Centola and Arnout van de Rijt. 2015. “Choosing Your Network: Social Preferences in an Online Health Community.” Social Science & Medicine 125: 19-31. pdf

Arnout van de Rijt, Soong Moon Kang, Michael Restivo and Akshay Patil. 2014. “Field Experiments of Success-Breeds-Success Dynamics.” PNAS 111(19):6934–39. pdf data&code Press: EconomistTimeNational GeographicWAMCDaily NewsDaily MailWorld NewsBusiness InsiderPhys.orgFT AlphavillePsychology Today.

Arnout van de Rijt, Eran Shor, Charles Ward and Steven Skiena. 2013. “Only Fifteen Minutes? The Social Stratification of Fame in Printed Media.” American Sociological Review 78(2): 266-89. pdf data&code Press: LA TimesNBC NewsToronto StarGlobe and MailYahoo NewsPacific StandardPolitiken (front page), U.S. News and World ReportPhillyLiveScience.comSmithsonianHindustan TimesUPIWinnipeg Free PressPsychCentralSalonJezebel


Department of Political and Social Sciences
European University Institute
Badia Fiesolana, room BF-179
via dei Roccettini, 9
50014 San Domenico di Fiesole (FI)

+39 055 4685 233