Trending and Mapping the Intellectual Structure of Social Behavior Studies: A Study of the Social Behavior and Personality Journal

Article excerpt

Our aim in this research was to map the intellectual structure of social behavior studies in the past 27 years, by comparing works from two specific periods - 1982-1995 and 1996-2008. A model of an invisible network of knowledge was used in this study to identify the most important studies, the most influential scholars, and the correlations among these publications. The results of this research help in perceiving the network that records the academic movement of social behavior, and will facilitate access for researchers to the literature in this field.

Keywords: network of knowledge, invisible network of knowledge, social behavior, citation, cocitation.

Because the study of social behavior has been extensive in recent years, there is a wealth of literature now available in this field. These findings, sometimes in the form of journal articles, or papers, books, and other documents, may be disseminated to readers, such as scientists and practitioners, without clear classification of the subjects or elucidation on their contribution to the development of social behavior. Readers may get confused when faced with a plethora of social behavior publications. Moreover, though great devotion has gone into the study of these issues, the research is usually based partially on researchers' subjective assessment. Such subjective assessment often leads to much disputation in the area of social behavior research.

To avoid such confusion and disputation of a more objective model, a generic model of network of knowledge (Etemad & Lee, 1998) or an invisible network of knowledge (G??-Model; Duan & McLee, 2007), is proposed in this paper and used to map the intellectual structure in the social behavior area. With citation and cocitation analysis, this model enables not only the exploration of the intellectual structure of any existing field, and the delineation of its knowledge network, but also of its knowledge diffusion process. The network of knowledge in this paper functions as a set of interlinked publishing nodes which are denoted by the citation frequency of the publications as well as by their correlations to other works. Each set of nodes performs a specific purpose for the study of social behavior or any other field of interest.

The methodology in this study is a theory-based citation and cocitation analysis. First, it introduces the network of knowledge model with distinct features, a communication process embedded in the publications being cited. This communication process is then applied to the work on social behavior from 1982-2008. Using citation analysis, the interlinked publishing nodes from the most influential publications or prestigious scholars in the social behavior field are identified. In addition, cocitation analysis is utilized to map the intellectual structure of social behavior studies and to explore the publishing nodes that represent those that contribute most to the study of social behavior and their possible progress pattern.

Our objective in this study was to provide researchers with a unique systematic and objective tool for assessing social behavior-related publications, and ranking the relative importance of different knowledge nodes to the development of social behavior research. Identifying the linkages among different publications and confirming the credentials of each publication as a valid and reliable source of information for the social behavior field was another goal in this study.


The network of knowledge or invisible network of knowledge, using statistical qualitative analysis, refers to the communication process embodied in written and published work of a given field or body of literature. The strength of this method is its objectiveness and unobtrusiveness (Garfield, 1979). Of the various methods developed in the last three decades, citation analysis is the earliest and the most widely utilized method that helps to quantify the process. …


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