As you probably know from reading W&F, the self reports are not at all
accurate if the criterion is observable communication behavior (though Bill
Richards has argued, correctly IMO, that they are perfectly good measures of
*perceived* relationships).  I have done two studies on the subject and
pasted the cites/abstracts below my sig for your reading enjoyment. The
first one cites some related work by Lin Freeman that will probably interest





Steven R. (Steve) Corman

Professor, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication

Arizona State University <> 


Visitng Professor, Facultät für Informatik

University of Karlsruhe (Germany)


Vice-chair, Organizational Communication Division

International Communication Association


Corman, S. R., & Bradford, L. (1993). Situational effects on the accuracy of
self-reported organizational communication behavior. Communication Research,
20, 822-840. 


Debate about the appropriateness of using self-reported communication as a
proxy for observable communication in studies of organizational
communication networks has created a paradox for network researchers that
diverges along classic lines of individualism and collectivism. The
inability of either to resolve fundamental theoretical challenges of the
other suggests need for an alternative approach. Working from a
situationalist perspective, this laboratory study looked to two important
characteristics of the collective context to explain divergences of
self-reported from observed communication behavior. Results show that
network members' perceived relationship to the group explains 59% of the
variance in the average size of their commission errors, and the collective
communication load placed on a members explains 61% of the variance in their
number of omission errors. Results suggest the need for a revised model of
the relationship between the perceived network and observable communication.
Such a model is proposed that includes both social-cognitive processes that
govern the perception of links and social activation processes that link
those perceptions to concrete situations where messages are exchanged. 


Corman, S. R., & Krizek, R. L. (1993). Accounting resources for
organizational communication and individual differences in their use.
Management Communication Quarterly, 7, 5-35. 


Findings in the network literature suggest self-reports are poor indicators
of observable communication behavior. As researchers have traditionally
studied organizational communication behavior through self-reports, a rather
large body of findings is rendered equivocal because we do not know what
self-reports actually measure. Self-reports of communication were
conceptualized as a type of account, and interviews based on Simon's
protocol analysis technique were conducted with participants in an
organizational simulation. Descriptive content analysis of the responses
showed that participants used a wide variety of resources to account for
their communication with others. Quantitative analysis showed further that
individual differences were partially related to personality and cognitive
style traits of the participants, but were in large part idiosyncratic.
Implications for the use of self-report data for future organizational
communication research are discussed. 




-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Whitcomb [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2003 5:50 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: social networks data



I am interested in understanding the accuracy of individuals' reports of
social affiliation.   I use a sociometric procedure
where I ask children to name the children they "hang around with".  I supply
participants with a complete roster of the children in 
their grade at school, and allow an unlimited number of nominations.

Can anyone describe related research (other than that cited in Wassermann &
Faust, p. 57)  that has examined the reliability/ accuracy 
of this type of data collection methodology? Also, any information about the
reliability/ accuracy of data collected by asking individuals 
about the affiliation patterns of others (e.g.,  "tell me who hangs around
together") would be most appreciated.

Thanks in advance.