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 you.





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.