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 We had this concern in our research at Antarctic research stations in 5
different cultures (US. Russia, China, Poland, India) especially since the
data was to be collected every month over the winter.  We found if you ask a
question that does not reflect any elements of like or dislike of another
person then people had no problem answering the network questions over time.
For example, friendship is a highly loaded since if you do not put some one
high in a ranking, scale or even nominate them may suggest you don't like
them (and for these intense group settings that was potentially
problematic).  However, in meetings with the groups we found that asking
people about "who they interacted with socially" got at what we wanted
(correlated highly with friendship) and didn't have the problems of a
friendship related question. Just because you don't socialize with someone
doesn't mean you don't like them.

We discuss these issues and the issue of measurement (ranking versus
ratings) in a paper:

L. Eudey, J.C. Johnson, and E. Schade. "Rankings Versus Ratings in Social
Networks: Theory and Praxis," Journal of Quantitative Anthropology
4(4):297-312,   1994.




-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Malling
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: 2/16/04 9:52 AM
Subject: Nasty questions about relations

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We would like to measure the strength of dyadic ties (concerning how
well people communicate face2face) in a number of small groups. However,
we have some concern on how the effect will be for the actors filling in
the questionnaire. Even though the set up will be so that people can
(and are asked to) fill in the questionnaire alone (web-based survey),
and the results will be anonymized before publication, we are afraid
that the very act of filling in the questionnaire will be a bad
experience for the actors, possibly biasing the result of the survey
(some people simply don't like admitting to themselves that there are
some people they don't rate so high), and having a negative effect on
the subsequent team work, (if people talk about how they have filled out
the questionnaires: who did you rate high, who did you rate low, etc.)

Do you have any ideas on how to cope with a problem like this?
Formulation of the question; the use of ranking (in order to "force"
people to discriminate between the relationships); other, not
selfreported, measurements for the strength of communication ties.

Regards from Denmark,
Peter Malling.

__________________________
Peter Malling
MA Psychology and Computer Science
Research Fellow
Department of Organization and Management
Knowledge Management
University of Southern Denmark
Email: [log in to unmask]
Tel (direct): +45 65503187
Campusvej 55
DK-5230 Odense M
Denmark
www.sdu.dk

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