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Changes in the phenomenology of student’s social network / Klepač, Olgica ; Maslić Seršić, Darja ; Letina, Srebrenka.

By: Klepač, Olgica.
Contributor(s): Maslić Seršić, Darja [aut] | Letina, Srebrenka [aut].
Material type: ArticleArticleDescription: 269-270 str.Other title: Changes in the phenomenology of student’s social network [Naslov na engleskom:].Subject(s): 5.06 | social networks; visual network scales; longitudinal design; ego density; student population | social networks; visual network scales; longitudinal design; ego density; student populationOnline resources: Click here to access online In: XXXVI International Sunbelt Social Network Conference str. 269-270Abstract: Researchers of social networks recognize the distinction between networks that represent real social interactions and the networks as phenomenal constructs - real or imagined mental constructions of social relations . In the latter - the “cognitive structure” approach, the measurement used was usually based on a respondent’s recall of each possible dyadic relationship in the given network and was mostly used in studies about accuracy of individual social network perception. Recently, Mehra et al.(2013) devised a new method using stylized network images to gather quantitative data on how people “see” some specific aspects of their social words - “visual network scales”. The aim of this study is to describe the longitudinal trends in the phenomenology of social networks in a specific context of student’s groups/networks. The participants were students of psychology (N=99) and social work (N=99) at the University of Zagreb. The student’s network is described as consisting of all other students that have enrolled at the same department in the same year. In this specific educational context, in their first year students choose a particular subject as their major, and are participating in the most of the courses together. We assume it makes their student’s network relatively stable and it is often viewed as the closest thing to any kind of formal group membership that most students have. We used the new method to examine how the perception of their student’s networks changed over the one-year time period. At both time points we measured their perception of: ego network density, ego network bridging, whole network density, and structure of whole network, their position in whole network and their preferences for having dense ego network and occupying bridging position. At the second time point the participants were additionally asked to estimate the extent of change on each examined network characteristics that happened when compared to the previous year. We hypothesized that the perception of ego density, whole network density and the tendency of individual to perceive himself as having more central position in the network will be higher in time 2 due to expected higher interconnectedness. The direction of changes was as hypothesized for all scales, but it was statistically significant only for ego density, suggesting that phenomenology of a network changes at the slow rate and that changes in personal ego network are more obvious to the individual than the changes in whole network. Somewhat contra-intuitive to the rise in ego density, at time 2 the participants reported occupying more bridging positions among their close peers than in first time point. This finding could indicate that different motives, preferences and social processes are simultaneously involved in formation of new ties. Most of the participants saw the whole network as having a clique structure in both time points. Additionally, their estimation of changes in time 2 showed a modest correlation with the difference in their scores at two time points. In the discussion, we point out the future direction for the scale validation, its criterion and construct validity.
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Researchers of social networks recognize the distinction between networks that represent real social interactions and the networks as phenomenal constructs - real or imagined mental constructions of social relations . In the latter - the “cognitive structure” approach, the measurement used was usually based on a respondent’s recall of each possible dyadic relationship in the given network and was mostly used in studies about accuracy of individual social network perception. Recently, Mehra et al.(2013) devised a new method using stylized network images to gather quantitative data on how people “see” some specific aspects of their social words - “visual network scales”. The aim of this study is to describe the longitudinal trends in the phenomenology of social networks in a specific context of student’s groups/networks. The participants were students of psychology (N=99) and social work (N=99) at the University of Zagreb. The student’s network is described as consisting of all other students that have enrolled at the same department in the same year. In this specific educational context, in their first year students choose a particular subject as their major, and are participating in the most of the courses together. We assume it makes their student’s network relatively stable and it is often viewed as the closest thing to any kind of formal group membership that most students have. We used the new method to examine how the perception of their student’s networks changed over the one-year time period. At both time points we measured their perception of: ego network density, ego network bridging, whole network density, and structure of whole network, their position in whole network and their preferences for having dense ego network and occupying bridging position. At the second time point the participants were additionally asked to estimate the extent of change on each examined network characteristics that happened when compared to the previous year. We hypothesized that the perception of ego density, whole network density and the tendency of individual to perceive himself as having more central position in the network will be higher in time 2 due to expected higher interconnectedness. The direction of changes was as hypothesized for all scales, but it was statistically significant only for ego density, suggesting that phenomenology of a network changes at the slow rate and that changes in personal ego network are more obvious to the individual than the changes in whole network. Somewhat contra-intuitive to the rise in ego density, at time 2 the participants reported occupying more bridging positions among their close peers than in first time point. This finding could indicate that different motives, preferences and social processes are simultaneously involved in formation of new ties. Most of the participants saw the whole network as having a clique structure in both time points. Additionally, their estimation of changes in time 2 showed a modest correlation with the difference in their scores at two time points. In the discussion, we point out the future direction for the scale validation, its criterion and construct validity.

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