Master of Science
Evans, Michael B.
An individual’s tendency to experience positive emotions can impact the likelihood they find themselves in advantageous positions within their social circle. Adopting a network perspective to map social relations, the current study examined the extent to which dispositional positive affectivity predicts one’s eigenvector centrality and indegree centrality within interaction networks and status networks, respectively. Gathering data during the Fall of 2023, I collected data from 16 student clubs and the members within them and utilised multilevel modeling to disaggregate data. Controlling for individual demographics and group-structure variables, the results suggest that dispositional positive affectivity significantly predicted eigenvector centrality for interaction networks, but not indegree centrality for status networks. Negative affectivity was found to predict indegree centrality for status networks, but not eigenvector centrality for interaction networks. Group-aggregated positive affectivity was not significant in predicting average interaction network centrality but was significant for indegree status network centrality. Group-aggregated negative affectivity failed to predict for both networks. My thesis therefore demonstrates the importance of considering individuals’ affect to explain how people come to position themselves within small social circles, whilst also descriptively highlighting the differences between interaction and status networks.
Summary for Lay Audience
Dispositional positive affectivity is described as the stable tendency for a person to experience and respond to situations in a positive way. Individuals with this tendency often attract attention in social settings and readily make social connections. Despite our understanding of the social outcomes associated with dispositional affect, we know very little about the processes that occur as people form social connections in small groups. This study examined how dispositional affect impacts the way an individual position themselves within small groups.
To evaluate the correlates of dispositional affect, I collected data from members of 16 student clubs at Western University during the Fall term of 2023. Data was collected in-person over the course of two months whilst clubs had their regular meeting. Club members named up to 10 members with whom they spend time or interact away from the club environment, and 5 individuals that were respected and admired by group members. Using these nominations, I constructed a network to determine each member’s position within their club: Those receiving many nominations for interactions were considered more embedded (or popular), while those with many status nominations were considered high-status. I then measured participants’ beliefs about their dispositional affect and other demographic information.
Club members who possessed more dispositional positive affectivity were found to occupy more integral and important positions for friendship social circles within the clubs. However, the same was not found for status: Club members who lacked dispositional negative affectivity were found to situate themselves into central and popular positions. This research provides insight into the mechanisms that contribute to how ‘positive individuals’ come to form their large social networks and furthers our understanding on how dispositional affect plays a different role for affiliative and status social connection
Hui, Roy, "Affectivity and its Role in Predicting Sociometric Position in Small Group Networks" (2023). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 9342.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.