Perceived group cohesion versus actual social structure: A study using social network analysis of egocentric Facebook networks

Marina Tulin, Thomas V. Pollet, Nale Lehmann-willenbrock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Research on group cohesion often relies on individual perceptions, which may not reflect the actual social structure of groups. This study draws on social network theory to examine the relationship between observable structural group characteristics and individual perceptions of group cohesion. Leveraging Facebook data, we extracted and partitioned the social networks of 109 participants into groups using a modularity algorithm. We then surveyed perceptions of cohesion, and computed group density and size using social network analysis. Out of six linear mixed effects models specified, a random intercept and fixed slope model with group size as a predictor of perceived group cohesion emerged as best fitting. Whereas group density was not linked to perceived cohesion, size had a small negative effect on perceived cohesion, suggesting that people perceive smaller groups as more cohesive. We discuss the potential of social network analysis, visualization tools, and Facebook data for advancing research on groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-175
JournalSocial Science Research
Volume74
Early online date24 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

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