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My name is Sean Duffy, I am a Research Fellow at the Research Center for
Group Dynamics at the Institute for Social Research at the University of
Michigan. I am new to this list, and have recently become interested in what
insights social network analysis may provide for social psychology. I hope
the readers of this list would not mind entertaining a question...
I am interested in cultural differences in ego-centered friendship networks
among Japanese and Americans. In some pilot work, I have asked undergraduate
participants in Kyoto and Michigan to basically draw a graphic sociogram of
themselves and their network of friends. The number of friends included is
open-ended, but they are asked to connect their friends who know each other
(either friends or acquaintances). After this, I make several photocopies of
the sociogram and on each have participants indicate on a scale of 0 - 10 1.
how close YOU feel to each individual in the network 2. how close they
perceive each connected person in the sociogram feels towards each other 3.
how frequently each connected person interacts 4. how often each person
provides social support to each other, and so on.
What I have found so far is an interesting difference: Japanese tend to
place themselves at the edge of a large network, with other people in the
network having more connections (higher centrality) than the ego. Americans
tend to place themselves at the center of the network, and all have far more
connections than any other person in the network. There tends to be fewer
'weak ties' in Japanese networks than American networks. This socio-centric
versus egocentric view of the self seems consistent with recent work in
social psychology claiming that the Japanese self is interdependent while
the North American, middle-class self is independent (i.e., Markus &
Kitayama, 1991). I suspect that understanding social networks may provide
insight into how a variety of cultural differences arise in 'modes of being
a self' in each culture.
So my question is this: Does anyone in network analysis use this kind of
methodology (ego centered sociograms that have no cutoff point) so that
there may be some methodological articles on how to analyze this kind of
data? (I've so far read a few books, like the Wasserman text, but have not
found a study that uses the exact method I have employed - maybe it is a
problematic design?) Does anyone in general conduct research on group-level
comparisons of ego-centered networks such as comparing, for instance,
Caucasian vs. African American social networks that I could use as a guide
for this research project? Is there anyone out there with a particular
interest in comparative studies on ego centered friendship networks,
specifically in East Asian and North American cultural contexts?
Thank you for your time! Sean Duffy
Sean Duffy, Ph.D.
Research Center for Group Dynamics
The Institute for Social Research
The University of Michigan
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