"Please Name the First Two People you Would Ask for Help": The Effect of Limitation of the Number of Alters on Network Composition

Kogovsek, Tina; Mrzel, Maja; Hlebec, Valentina
December 2010
Advances in Methodology & Statistics / Metodoloski zvezki;2010, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p95
Academic Journal
Social network indicators (e.g., network size, network structure and network composition) and the quality of their measurement may be affected by different factors such as measurement method, type of social support, limitation of the number of alters, context of the questionnaire, question wording, personal characteristics of respondents such as age, gender or personality traits and others. In this paper we focus on the effect of limiting the number of alters on network composition indicators (e.g., percentage of kin, friends etc.), which are often used in substantive studies on social support, epidemiological studies and so on. Often social networks are only one among many topics measured in such large studies; therefore, limitation of the number of alters that can be named is often used directly (e.g., International Social Survey Programme) or indirectly (e.g., General Social Survey) in the network items. The analysis was done on two comparable data sets from different years. Data were collected by the name generator approach by students of the University of Ljubljana as part of various social science methodology courses. Network composition on the basis of direct use (i.e., already in the question wording) of limitation on the number of alters is compared to network composition on full network data (i.e.,collected without any limitations).


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