Principles and Methods of Social Research

By William D. Crano; Marilynn B. Brewer | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER
17

METHODS FOR ASSESSING DYADS
AND GROUPS
The preceding chapters on measurement and social cognition dealt with methods for assessing characteristics and behaviors of individual persons. Properties of single persons are known as monadic variables. A person's attitude toward abortion, for instance, may be considered monadic because it refers only to the individual's own attitude. In many areas of social science, however, social scientists may be interested in studying persons who are interacting in dyads (pairs) or small groups. In this case, we are not assessing properties of the individuals separately, but rather the nature of their relationship, or the structure or process or outcomes of their interaction. A dyadic measurement refers to characteristics of the relationship between two persons; group measures refer to characteristics of interacting groups of three or more persons. This chapter considers how to assess variables that are fundamentally dyadic or group level phenomena.Measures of behaviors or attitudes of interacting persons are a special case because the assessments taken from each of the actors are interdependent. Consider the following examples of measures that might result from a study of an interacting dyad:
How much Tom likes Peter.
How much Dick smiles when interacting with Paul.
How intelligent Harry thinks Mary is.

In each of these three interactions, the person who produces the measure (the actor) is an individual person, but the outcome of the measure is influenced not only by the characteristics of the actor but by the particular partner as well. For instance, Tom's liking of Peter is, in part, a consequence of something about Tom, but it is also influenced by what Peter is like and by the nature of the relationship between the two of them. Thus, all three of these cases are examples of dyadic measurements because there are two persons (and their interaction) involved in each.

The terms partner and actor correspond to stimulus and responder in a dyadic situation. The actor is the responder, and the partner the stimulus. With dyadic data the person can

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