After analyzing more than 10 million anonymized emails from Yahoo!, a group of computer researchers stumbled upon a fascinating trend: countries with economic and cultural similarities had a tendency to send each other emails far more frequently.
Of course, countries with geographical proximity or some other real-world tie (e.g. trade) were far more likely to shoot emails back and forth. But this rule did still carry some fun discrepancies. For instance, the fact that previous UK colonies apparently aren't too keen on maintaining ties with the mother country. Wonder why.
Perhaps more interestingly, those countries that maintained a similar distinction (or lack thereof) in terms of gender roles emailed more often, as did those with similar levels of "uncertainty avoidance," which is essentially how much they're willing to tolerate uncertain situations in general. And funnily enough, countries that shared levels of individualism were less likely to email.
But while this data does offer all sorts of interesting tidbits, it still doesn't give us any real sense of causation. The paper itself even notes that "the advancement of an explanation is premature." Instead, it's just a fascinating puzzle giving you the freedom to jump to any and all the conclusions you want. At least for now. [The Washington Post via Digg]