Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Donelson R. Forsyth

Second Advisor

Faye Z. Belgrave


How accurately people perceive interpersonal relationships, both among others and with themselves, forms the basis of social inferences about the structure of the social environment and one's place in it. Six hypotheses were tested using the cognitive social structures method from social network analysis with five independent but similar student networks from two universities. Results from all networks were meta-analyzed. Participants gave both their self-reported friendship ratings for every alter in their group and also gave their perceptions of the ratings the other member would give. Perception ratings were correlated to self-report ratings for each participant as a measure of accuracy of social network perception. Participants perceived more structural balance than was present in self-reports in four out of five networks and in the meta-analysis, providing evidence for the balance schema. Attachment anxiety correlated negatively with accuracy for one of the networks but was not statistically significant in the meta-analysis. Being located in a tightly-knit subgroup reduced overall network accuracy, consistent with the strength of weak ties (SWT) theory, in one network but not in the meta-analysis. In only one network did participants overestimated how central they were, though not significantly in the meta-analysis. Being more central in the social network was unrelated to accuracy, as was the mean social network distance between perceiver and targets. Results provide meta-analytic support for the balance schema and limited support for attachment, SWT, and egocentric bias in social network perception.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2008

Included in

Psychology Commons