INFORMANT ACCURACY IN SOCIAL NETWORK DATA II

Authors

  • H. RUSSELL BERNARD,

    1. H. Russell Bernard (Ph.D., University of Illinois, 1968) is professor of Anthropology at West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506.
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  • PETER D. KILLWORTH

    1. Peter D. Killworth (Ph.D., Cambridge University, 1972) has a research post in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University, Cambridge, England CB3 9EW. 1977.
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  • This study accepted for publication March 21, 1977

Abstract

This paper repeats and confirms the results of Kill worth and Bernard (1976), concerning informants'ability to report their communication accurately. A variety of self-monitoring, or nearly self-monitoring, networks are used for this study. The conclusion again appears that people do not know, with any accuracy, those with whom they communicate.

The expanded experimental design permits a variety of other, related questions to be answered: recall of past communication is not significantly more accurate than prediction of future communication; no one set of data is more accurate than any other; the maintenance of personal logs of communication does not improve accuracy; informants do not know if they are accurate or not; there is no reason to choose either rankings or scalings as a data instrument save for convenience.

It is suggested that future research should concentrate both on improving the accuracy of data-gathering instruments and on lessening the reliance of data-processing instruments on precise data.

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