Ratings as Validation of Sociometric Status Determined by Nominations in Longitudinal Research

By Maassen, Gerard H.; Goossens, Frits A. et al. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, January 1, 1998 | Go to article overview

Ratings as Validation of Sociometric Status Determined by Nominations in Longitudinal Research


Maassen, Gerard H., Goossens, Frits A., Bokhorst, Jacobus, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


The current methods for two-dimensional sociometric status classification into five categories are based on nominations. Recently, Maassen et al. (1996) showed that such a classification can also be achieved by means of rating-scales. Ratings have been known for some time to be more reliable than nominations, an important consideration in longitudinal research. We report an investigation among school pupils, who were assessed by their classmates by means of nominations at three moments, with an interval of one year between the measurements. The sample consisted of 157 children with a mean age of 7 years and 7 months at the third moment. We demonstrate how status passages assessed by means of nominations can be validated by an extra assessment with ratings. Particular attention is paid to passages from and into the category of rejected children.

The determination of sociometric status within a peer group is an important element of many developmental studies. One generally assumes that peer status is a proxy variable for social competence and a useful predictor for adjustment in later life. The determination of sociometric status is usually aimed at identifying those youths who have problems relating to their peers (Asher & Coie, 1990; Cillessen, van IJzendoorn, Van Lieshout & Hartup, 1992; DeRosier, Kupersmidt & Patterson, 1994). Further research amongst such children is important because they run a higher risk of maladjustment later on in life.

Until the early eighties, sociometric status was assessed in a one-dimensional way, employing either nominations or ratings. The nominations-based procedure consists of asking every child from a group (usually a classroom group) to nominate some peers with whom they would like to undertake a certain activity (e.g. playing), whilst at the same time the children are also asked to nominate peers with whom they would least like to undertake that same activity. The ratingsbased method consists of asking every child from a group to indicate on a ratingscale how much they like or dislike every other child from the group. Both procedures aimed at a one-dimensional classification of social acceptance of individuals within their peer group.

Already at an early stage the idea of a more refined determination of sociometric status was expressed (Bronfenbrenner, 1944; Dunnington, 1957). Researchers needed (Gronlund & Anderson, 1957) not only to be able to identify the rejected pupils, but also to identify those who by their very inconspicuousness have few contacts with their peers (neglected pupils). Peery (1979) was the first to suggest a practical two-dimensional procedure. On the basis of his proposals, Coie and Dodge (Coie, Dodge & Coppotelli, 1982; Coie & Dodge, 1983) and Newcomb and Bukowski (1983) developed new procedures using nominations which lead to a classification into five different sociometric status groups: popular, rejected, neglected, controversial and average. This distinction is considered to be twodimensional; popular, average and rejected correspond to the first dimension (referred to as social preference), while neglected, average and controversial correspond to the second dimension, usually described as social impact. The procedures of Coie et al. and of Newcomb and Bukowski differ only in the statistical rules for allocating subjects to a certain status group. Both are at present considered appropriate methods for determining sociometric status and have been applied in numerous studies (see Newcomb, Bukowski & Pattee, 1993). The Coie et al. procedure, however, appears to be used more often, probably because its statistics are somewhat easier to adopt in actual research.

Rating-scales continued to be applied in the determination of sociometric status (French, 1988, 1990), but their use has strongly declined since the beginning of the eighties. Rating-scales appeared not to lend themselves readily to a classification into the five different categories which had since become popular. …

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