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SOCNET  January 2006

SOCNET January 2006

Subject:

Re: CSS & "A Million Little Pieces"

From:

Don Steiny <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Don Steiny <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 22 Jan 2006 21:05:25 -0800

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text/plain

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*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****

Steven,

    Your comment on the difficulty of getting observable measures 
resonates.  I just had the pleasure of attending a conference in Linz 
with Ivan Chase and spending several days traveling and general hanging 
out.   He presented work he is currently doing on pecking orders in 
chickens and he studies fish and other vertebrates.   He describes his 
work as incredibly tedious analyzing the interactions of chickens or 
fish over 12 hours and recording every contact.  This requires multiple 
viewings of video tapes and takes a very long time.   His most recent 
(unpublished) paper is on dominance hierarchies in chickens and he 
shows, in a new way, something he has shown before: that the intuitive 
notion of dominance, that the biggest and strongest it the top, the 
second strongest second and so on is not the way it works.    It is also 
true that intransitive relationships are rare, in that the top chicken 
pecks those below, but they do not peck up (or do so very rarely).    
One experiment he did he separated the animals for a few weeks so they 
forgot the dominance order, put them back together and in more that 2/3 
the cases a new hierarchy formed.   In other words, the linear 
hierarchies that form do not form for the obvious reasons. 

    The point here is that even with relatively simple creatures like 
fish and chickens in small groups (4), it is very time consuming and 
difficult to really observe a single aspect of their behavior. 

    If you are familiar with Paul Eckman's work on emotions and how we 
influence each other at a subconscious level (discussed in the book 
recommended at last year's Plenary  Session by Ron Breiger at SunBelt -- 
Looking for Spinoza by Antonio Damasio), it starts to become clear how 
daunting a "behaviorial" analysis of networks would be.   We do rapid 
(1/25th of a second) stereotypical behaviors that seem to be 
communicating which neither we or those we are with are aware of at a 
conscious level.   It may be best to look at this at an other level of 
analysis than as networks, such at Harrison White's disciplines, but 
however you look at it it reinforces you (Steven's) point about the 
difficultly of getting observable measures.

    Gibson's work on turn taking in group discussions is pretty cool and 
a step in that direction (Harrison White discusses this in the new 
edition of Identity and Control).   

    I think with tools like digital video that can be slowed down 
becoming cheap we can possibly look at behavior in small groups, but we 
would need to know what we were looking for.   It is much easier said 
that done.

-Don
> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>
> Michael,
>
> "I do believe that something like actual, 'objective' human behaviors
> happen in the world."  Wow, how un-PC.  Can't you get your cultural
> anthropologist license revoked for saying something like that? :-)
>
> My dissertation (way back when) was on this subject of perceived versus
> observable behavior in network research, and it's been the main thrust
> of my research program since. One important point is that it is
> extremely hard to even *get* observable behavior measures, especially in
> a network of any appreciable size. So the studies that have looked at
> this have used very small groups, strange contexts (e.g. HAM radio
> operators who keep logs), questionable observation schemes (walk through
> an organization every half hour and write down everyone you see
> talking), or incomplete records of behavior (i.e. e-mail flows).
>
> In cases when people have compared such observations to standard network
> questionnaire responses, they have found correlations that range from
> bad to terrible.  Some people think these data are noisy (more or less)
> and by mathematical manipulation we can recover valid info about the
> actual behavior.  I disagree with this and believe (as you seem to) that
> they are different phenomena.  I have done one study showing that
> self-report data is systematically biased by factors such as one's
> communication load and position in an organization structure, and
> another showing that people vary widely in terms of the "evidence" they
> use for formulating their answers to network questionnaires.  Based on
> this research I've theorized (borrowing Giddens's notion of duality)
> that networks exist in the domain of social structure, behavior exists
> in the domain of social interaction, and processes of social activation
> and social cognition continuously transform one into the other. (Cites
> to these studies are below and I will send on request.)
>
> If you believe this model then you cannot really say that one of the
> phenomena is more valid or important than the other.  People act on the
> basis of the network they perceive, so you can't hope to explain their
> behavior by just looking at what they do.  Yet the things they actually
> do have consequences (like transferring information to someone else)
> whether they accurately perceive this or not, so you can't assess the
> impact of a network by just looking at people's perceptions, either.
> Unfortunately, this creates quite a research challenge because you need
> good data on both phenomena and as I said above the observable is very
> hard to get.
>
> Regarding Krackhardt's cognitive nets, my guess is that they yield a
> high-quality representation of the collective perceived network rather
> than a valid measure of behavior.  But I know of no study that has done
> a three-way comparison between perceives, cognitive, and observable
> networks.  If you find one please let me know.
>
> Good luck!
>
> Steve
>
> Corman, S. R., & Scott, C. R. (1994). Perceived communication
> relationships, activity foci, and observable communication in
> collectives. Communication Theory, 4, 171-190.
>
> Corman, S. R., & Bradford, L. B. (1993) Situational effects on the
> accuracy of self-reported organizational communication behavior.
> Communication Research, 20, 822-840.
>
> Corman, S. R., & Krizek, R. L. (1993) Accounting resources for
> organizational communication and individual differences in their use.
> Management Communication Quarterly, 7, 5-35.
>
> ________________________________________________
> Steven R. (Steve) Corman
> Professor, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
> Arizona State University
> http://www.public.asu.edu/~corman
>  
> Chair, Organizational Communication Division
> International Communication Association
> http://www.icahdq.org
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
> Behalf Of Michael Reed
> Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2006 5:55 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [SOCNET] CSS & "A Million Little Pieces"
>
> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>
> I'm a cultural anthropologist who is new to new SNA; hence, I've turned
> to
> Krackhardt's High-Tech Managers data (including the 1987 article,
> "Cognitive
> Social Structures")--recommended by Wasserman and Faust (1994)--as a way
> to
> learn about a "simple," one-mode, 3-relation set of SNA data. (I'm about
> to
> conduct similar data collection with a group of 40 women entrepreneurs.)
>
> As I was reading the 1987 article (expecting, modestly, to learn some
> basic
> SNA skills), I was struck by the actual focus of Krackhardt's research,
> i.e., the contention that "...what people say...bears no useful
> resemblance
> to their behavior" (Bernard et al., 1982). The article bears down on
> BEHAVIOR ("what actually happened") vs. COGNITION/PERCEPTION ("people's
> perceptions, often in retrospect, of what actually happened").
>
> I am intrigued by Figure 3 in the article, which shows Person 15's
> "slice"
> (how he/she sees relations between pairs of the 21 managers), vs.
> Figures 1
> & 2 (the "locally aggregated" and "consensus" structures). It is clear
> that
> Person 15's perceptions are wildly different from the more "objective"
> measures. I personally would be concerned if my own perceptions of
> "reality"
> varied that much from "actual reality"! I would be tempted to say
> cynically
> that Person 15 is "living in a bubble"! (but that's no doubt unfair).
> For
> example, in my daily life, I frequently try to do "reality checks" to
> make
> certain that my thoughts and perceptions jibe, more or less, with those
> of
> other people.
>
> Finally, I just happened to read the Krackhardt article right after
> reading
> Mary Karr's op-ed piece, "His So-Called Life," in the Jan. 15 NYTimes.
> Here
> she weighs in on the recent uproar about James Frey ("A Million Little
> Pieces") and the question: Should a memoir be held to higher "factual"
> standards than a piece of fiction? As someone who wrote a daily research
> journal in Africa and who is now in the midst of trying to finish a
> novel, I
> am very interested in whether or not it is even possible for a memoirist
> to
> accurately document on paper "the way life and behavior ACTUALLY
> occurred at
> some past time." (As a novelist, I am most concerned with what I would
> call
> "emotional truth," although getting the "facts" straight is important,
> too.)
>
> I know my own memory to often be extremely "inaccurate"; I don't know if
> this inaccuracy is a function of my advancing age (54) or simply of the
> fact
> that I didn't pay as much attention to memory when I was younger and
> thus
> didn't see how problematic it is. Sometimes I'm nearly resigned to
> believing
> that all human memory is basically a "creative reconstruction" (done in
> the
> present according to present needs and wants) of the past. That's why
> historians turn to written, archival sources for help (not that they are
> without bias or error--we can never escape the fact that fallible humans
> are
> involved).
>
> Still, I do believe that something like actual, "objective" human
> behaviors
> happen in the world. The question is, How accurately can we humans
> measure
> or remember or understand those behaviors, i.e., "what really happened"?
> Krackhardt ends his article by stating, "But the task of future research
> should not be to show that behaviors are more important than cognitions,
> nor
> that cognitions are more important than behaviors. Rather, our task will
> be
> to show the consequence of each--behavior and cognitions."
>
> As someone who believes that there IS an important difference between a
> memoir and a piece of fiction, I would have to say that, in some sense,
> the
> behaviors must take precedence (although I admit that "behavior" is
> itself a
> cognitive creation; we never escape from our mental jail): we need to
> make
> certain that our cognition about the past doesn't willfully (or even
> unintentionally) distort past behaviors.
>
> Michael C. Reed, Ph.D.
> Independent Consultant & Cultural Anthropologist
> Kalamazoo, Mich., USA
> [log in to unmask]   Tel. 269-342-4025  Cell phone 269-808-8983
>
> _____________________________________________________________________
> SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
> network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send
> an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
> UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.
>
> _____________________________________________________________________
> SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
> network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send
> an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
> UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.
>
>
>   

_____________________________________________________________________
SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
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