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Dear socnetters

We are currently studying social networks and people's lay
epistemologies from a cognitive developmental perspective.
At the hearth of the perspective is  the idea  that encountering
diversity and conflicts stimulates cognitive  development (see eg.
Perry 1970, Baxter-Magolda 2002). .

We believe that the most important setting where diversity is
effectively encountered is in day-to-day interactions with the
members of ones social network. We set the hypotheses that large
and diverse personal networks and a wealth of weak links fosters
cognitive development in general and leads people to more complex
views on what knowledge is, what is the role of authorities, how to
obtaing the ultimate truth etc - what we call lay epistemological
theories and which is our main interest in this study.

No doubt there is also an  causal connection in the other direction -
people with more reflective style of thinking are prone to seek more
diverse connections, see
http://www.diversityweb.org/Digest/Sp.Sm00/tolerance.html

Our problem is the that although the hypotheses does not sound
very revolutionary, we cannot find any literature bearing on it. So I'm
turning to the list to ask for any references linking  cognitive
development/skills/style and personal networks.

To get an idea of the field we are working in,  "Reflective thinking"-
paradigm (see http://taxa.psyc.missouri.edu/~wood/rci/  )
comes close in  empasizing the environment and real life contacs,
but I have seen  no direct references to social networks. Also we do
not fully share  the Piaget-Kohlberg type of sequential view of
cognitive  development.

I will summarize to the list.

 -Timo Harmo (& Anna-Maija Pirttilä-Backman & Susanna
Lähteenoja) Faculty of Sial Science, dept of Social Psychology, U of
Helsinki

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