Ego networks and network perceptions

Sources of ego networks

  • Surveys of individuals
  • “Extraction” from complete network
  • Usually one step from ego

Example - Full network

Example - Ego network highlighted

Example - Ego network

What can we measure about ego networks?

  • Degree centrality (size)
  • Density
  • Groups
  • Distance
  • Homogeneity
  • Homophily
  • Composition

How can we use ego network data?

  • GSS data
    • Changes over time
    • Comparison by location
  • Predicting individual outcomes
    • Health
    • Employment
    • Happiness

Network Perception

Ego networks are the only part of the networks that we see

  • But are they real?
  • Perceived networks differ from observed networks (Bernard, Kilworth, and Sailer)
    • “What people say about their communications bears no resemblance to their behavior” (BKS, 1982)
  • “Friendship” is often not mutual

So what?

  • Perceptions are what influence actions
  • Potential network vs. “activated” network (Smith et al., 2012)
    • Part of wealth and opportunity disparity may be due to differences in network activation

How can we overcome perception biases?

  • Get information from others
    • Build picture of whole network (Krackhardt et al)
  • Think in terms of potential networks and activation and mobilization
  • Recognize the value of “weak ties”

Today’s Dad Joke

I accidentally swallowed a bunch of scrabble tiles.

My next trip to the bathroom could spell disaster.