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I agree with Tom that this is a very unusual IRB position -- i think you could argue that virtually any question may cause children to "structure their self perception" to some extent.  I'd avoid basing ties on whether kids have visited each other's house as this is strongly affected by neighborhood geography and family dynamics.  If you can't ask about 'friends' directly as Tom suggests, then the "play together" wording is a good alternative -- perhaps rating each classmate in terms of "how many times have you played with X in the past month", with response options ranging from "never" to "almost every day".  Alternatively, you could consider aggregating several different dichotomous indicators of social contact to get a sense of tie strength -- e.g., played together at recess; sat together at lunch; played together in the classroom; talked in the hallway; told a secret to; etc.  You could sum them and treat as valued ties or dichotomize at a particular level.
Good luck,
Scott

---
Scott D. Gest, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Human Development & Family Studies
Penn State University
814-865-3464 office


On Sep 1, 2010, at 2:45 AM, Thomas Valente wrote:

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> All
> I must say that is a strange request, friendships were one of the first things my kids understood, did they provide any rationale for making this restriction, it seems random to me.
> Can you ask "Are friends with X"  Can't you just ask, "Name your best friends"  This is pretty commonly done in middle and high schools.
> -Tom
> 
> Uri Shwed wrote:
> 
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>> Dear socnetters,
>> I am designing  a data collection effort in elementary schools. I got permission to talk to all students in certain ages, and I wish to draw their friendship networks. My IRB restrictions, however, prohibit questions that may cause children to structure their self perception - specifically, my IRB refuses to approve questions such as "is X your friend?". They allow, however, questions like "Have you ever been to X's house?" or "Did you play with X in the past week?". Since many of you are experienced in designing such measures, I'd appreciate some suggestions for such elaborated questions. Naturally, I will edit all comments to a concise document and recirculate to the list.
>> Thank you,
>> Uri Shwed 
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> 
> -- 
> Thomas W. Valente, PhD
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