Reading Group's schedule of Winter / Spring 2015

Readings: Winter / Spring 2015


16 January
Ilany, A., Barocas, A., Koren, L., Kam, M. & Geffen, E. (2013). Structural balance in the social networks of a wild mammal. Animal Behavior, 85, 1397-1405.

The social structure of a population is based on individual social associations, which can be described using network patterns (motifs). Our understanding of the forces stabilizing specific social structures in animals is limited. Structural balance theory was proposed for exploring social alliances and suggested that some network motifs are more stable than others in a society. The theory models the presence of specific triads in the network and their effect on the global population structure, based on the differential stability of specific triad configurations. While structural balance was shown in human social networks, the theory has never been tested in animal societies. Here we use empirical data from an animal social network to determine whether or not structural balance is present in a population of wild rock hyraxes, Procavia capensis. We confirm its presence and show the ability of structural balance to predict social changes resulting from local instability. We present evidence that new individuals entering the population introduce social instability, which counters the tendency of social relationships to seek balanced structures. Our findings imply that structural balance has a role in the evolution of animal social structure.


23 January
Huitsing, G., Snijders, B., Van Duijn, M. A. J., Veenstra, R. (2014). Victims, bullies, and their defenders: A longitudinal study of the coevolution of positive and negative networks. Development and Psychopathology, 26(3), 645-659.

The complex interplay between bullying/victimization and defending was examined using a longitudinal social network approach (stochastic actor-based models). The (co)evolution of these relations within three elementary schools (Grades 2-5 at Time 1, ages 8-11, N = 354 children) was investigated across three time points within a year. Most bullies and defenders were in the same grade as the victims, although a substantial number of bullies and defenders were in other grades (most often one grade higher). Defenders were usually of the same gender as the victims, whereas most bullies were boys, with boys bullying both boys and girls. In line with goal-framing theory, multiplex network analyses provided evidence for the social support hypothesis (victims with the same bullies defended each other over time) as well as the retaliation hypothesis (defenders run the risk of becoming victimized by the bullies of the victims they defend). In addition, the analysis revealed that bullies with the same victims defended each other over time and that defenders of bullies initiated harassment of those bullies' victims. This study can be seen as a starting point in unraveling the relationship dynamics among bullying, victimization, and defending networks in schools.


30 January
Molano, A., Jones, S., Brown, J. & Aber, J. L. (2013). Selection and socialization of aggressive and prosocial behavior: The moderating role of social-cognitive processes. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23(3), 424-436.

This study evaluated the extent to which fourth grade students (Mage = 8.62) select and are influenced by their peers’ aggressive and prosocial behavior and the extent to which intraindividual social cognitions moderate these processes. Two waves of data were collected in the fall and spring of one academic year from children attending eighteen New York City public elementary-schools. Stochastic actor-based social network analysis was used to evaluate whether participants modify their network or behavior in response to the behavior of their peers. Findings support an average main effect of peer influence of aggression, as well as an interaction indicating that participants with high level of hostile attributional bias have higher odds of adopting the aggressive behavior of their peers.


6 February
Simpson, B., Markovsky, B. & Steketee, M. (2011). Power and the perception of social networks. Social networks, 33(2), 166-171.

Previous work has led to divergent conclusions about how power affects the accuracy of network perceptions in groups and organizations. This paper develops and tests an argument linking higher power to less accurate network perception. Results from the first experiment showed that, relative to participants primed with high power, those primed with low power had more accurate perceptions of who was tied to whom in novel networks. The second experiment demonstrated that such differences in perceptual accuracy do not emerge for non-social relations.
Simpson, B., Markovsky, B. & Steketee, M. (2011). Network knowledge and the use of power. Social networks, 33(2), 172-176.
Complementing recent work on the effects of power on network perceptions, we offer a theory specifying how knowledge of network structures and exchange processes differentially affect the use of power by advantaged and disadvantaged positions. We argue that under certain conditions, network knowledge is beneficial to occupants of low-power positions, but not to occupants of high-power positions. Any low-power actor can benefit from having superior information, but if all low-power actors have equally sound knowledge, then all are worse off—a type of social trap. We tested these arguments by manipulating power and the availability of information on network structure and exchange processes in an experimental exchange network setting. The results were supportive.


13 February
Farley, S. D. (2011). Is gossip power? The inverse relationship between gossip, power, and likability. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41(5), 574-579.

Despite widespread conjecture regarding the functions and consequences of gossip, little empirical attention has investigated how gossipers are perceived by others. In the present study, 128 individuals were asked to think about a person who either frequently or rarely discussed others while not in their presence. Gender of the target and valence of the gossip were also manipulated. High-frequency gossipers were perceived as less powerful and were liked less than low-frequency gossipers, and those who gossiped negatively were liked less than those who gossiped positively. High-frequency negative gossipers emerged as the least powerful and least likable targets. These results are discussed in relation to the transfer of attitudes recursively effect.
Anderson, E., Siegel, E. H., Bliss-Moreau, E. & Feldman Barrett, L. (2011). The visual impact of gossip. Science, 332(6036), 1446-1448.
Gossip is a form of affective information about who is friend and who is foe. We show that gossip does not impact only how a face is evaluated—it affects whether a face is seen in the first place. In two experiments, neutral faces were paired with negative, positive, or neutral gossip and were then presented alone in a binocular rivalry paradigm (faces were presented to one eye, houses to the other). In both studies, faces previously paired with negative (but not positive or neutral) gossip dominated longer in visual consciousness. These findings demonstrate that gossip, as a potent form of social affective learning, can influence vision in a completely top-down manner, independent of the basic structural features of a face.


20 February
de Nooy, W. (2011). Networks of action and events over time. A multilevel discrete-time event history model for longitudinal network data. Social Networks, 33(1), 31-40.

Longitudinal network data recording the moment at which ties appear, change, or disappear are increasingly available. Event history models can be used to analyze the dynamics of time-stamped network data. This paper adapts the discrete-time event history model to social network data. A discrete-time event history model can easily incorporate a multilevel design and time-varying covariates. A multilevel design is needed to account for dependencies among ties and vertices, which should not be ignored in a small longitudinal network. Time-varying covariates are required to analyze network effects,
that is, the impact of previous ties. In addition, a discrete-time event history model handles constraints on who can act or who can be acted upon in a straightforward way. The model can be estimated with multilevel logistic regression analysis, which is illustrated by an application to book reviews, so network evolution can be analyzed with a fairly standard statistical tool.


27 February
Armstrong, E. A., Hamilton, L. T., Armstrong, E. M. & Lotus Seeley, J. (2014). “Good girls” Gender, social class, and slut discourse on campus. Social Psychology Quarterly, 77(2), 100-122.

Women’s participation in slut shaming is often viewed as internalized oppression: they apply disadvantageous sexual double standards established by men. This perspective grants women little agency and neglects their simultaneous location in other social structures. In this article we synthesize insights from social psychology, gender, and culture to argue that undergraduate women use slut stigma to draw boundaries around status groups linked to social class—while also regulating sexual behavior and gender performance. High-status women employ slut discourse to assert class advantage, defining themselves as classy rather than trashy, while low-status women express class resentment—deriding rich, bitchy sluts for their exclusivity. Slut discourse enables, rather than constrains, sexual experimentation for the high-status women whose definitions prevail in the dominant social scene. This is a form of sexual privilege. In contrast, low-status women risk public shaming when they attempt to enter dominant social worlds.


6 March
Lauterbach, D., Truong, H., Shah, T. & Adamic, L. (n/a). Surfing a web of trust: Reputation and reciprocity on Available:

Reputation mechanisms are essential for online transactions, where the parties have little prior experience with one another. This is especially true when transactions result in offline interactions. There are few situations requiring more trust than letting a stranger sleep in your home, or conversely, staying on someone else’s couch. allows individuals to do just this. The global CouchSurfing network displays a high degree of reciprocal interaction and a large strongly connected component of individuals surfing the globe. This high degree of interaction and reciprocity among participants is enabled by a reputation system that allows individuals to vouch for one another. We find that the strength of a friendship tie is most predictive of whether an individual will vouch for another. However, vouches based on weak ties outnumber those between close friends. We discuss these and other factors that could
inform a more robust reputation system.


13 March

Santos, F. C. & Pacheco, J. M. (2005). Scale-free networks provide a unifying framework for the emergence of cooperation. Physical Review Letters 95: 098104.

We study the evolution of cooperation in the framework of evolutionary game theory, adopting the prisoner’s dilemma and snowdrift game as metaphors of cooperation between unrelated individuals. In sharp contrast with previous results we find that, whenever individuals interact following networks of contacts generated via growth and preferential attachment, leading to strong correlations between individuals, cooperation becomes the dominating trait throughout the entire range of parameters of both games, as such providing a unifying framework for the emergence of cooperation. Such emergence is shown to be inhibited whenever the correlations between individuals are decreased or removed. These results are shown to apply from very large population sizes down to small communities with nearly 100 individuals.


20 March
Staff, J. & Kreager, D. A. (2008). Too cool for school? Violence, peer status and high school dropout. Social Forces, 87(1), 445-471.

Research shows that peer status in adolescence is positively associated with school achievement and adjustment. However, subculture theories of juvenile delinquency and school-based ethnographies suggest that (1. disadvantaged boys are often able to gain some forms of peer status through violence and (2. membership in violent groups undermines educational attainment. Building on these ideas, we use peer network data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine whether peer status within highly violent groups increases male risks of high school dropout. Consistent with the subcultural argument, we find that disadvantaged boys with high status in violent groups are at much greater risks of high school dropout than other students.


27 March
Jerrim, J. & Micklewright, J. (2014). Socio-economic gradients in children’s cognitive skills: Are cross-country comparisons robust to who reports family background? European Sociological Review, 30(6), 766-781.

The international surveys of pupil achievement—Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)—have been widely used to compare socio-economic gradients in children’s cognitive abilities across countries. Socio-economic status is typically measured drawing on children’s reports of family or home characteristics rather than information provided by their parents. There is a well-established literature based on other survey sources on the measurement error that may result from child reports. But there has been little work on the implications for the estimation of socio-economic gradients in test scores in the international surveys, and especially their variation across countries. In this article, we use the PISA and PIRLS data sets to investigate the consistency of parent and child reports of three common socio-economic indicators (father’s occupation, parental education, and the number of books in the family home) across a selection of OECD countries. Our results suggest that children’s reports of their father’s occupation provide a reliable basis on which to base comparisons across countries in socio-economic gradients in reading test scores. The same is not true, however, for children’s reports of the number of books in the home—a measure commonly used—while results for parental education are rather mixed.