Perceived entitativity of social networks

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Four studies examined how people perceive entitativity of small and large social networks based on the graphical information of interaction among individuals. Participants rated social network graphs on entitativity while controlling for the number
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  Running head: NETWORK ENTITATIVITY 1 Perceived Entitativity of Social Networks In press,  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Tasuku Igarashi Hokkai Gakuen University, Japan Yoshihisa Kashima The University of Melbourne, Australia Author Note This research was partially supported by Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows to the first author. The authors acknowledge Phillip Smith and Garry Robins for valuable comments and suggestions on earlier drafts, and Haruka Koike, Tadahiro Motoyoshi, Hiroyuki Yoshizawa, and Takuya Yoshida for helping to collect the data. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Tasuku Igarashi, Department of Management Information, Faculty of Business Administration, Hokkai Gakuen University, 4-1-40, Asahimachi, Toyohira-ku, Sapporo 062-8605 Japan. E-mail: tasukuigarashi@yahoo.co.jp  Running head: NETWORK ENTITATIVITY 2 Abstract Four studies examined how people perceive entitativity of small and large social networks based on the graphical information of interaction among individuals. Participants rated social network graphs on entitativity while controlling for the number of individuals and connectivity of social relationships. Overall, network connectivity corresponded to the degree of interaction among individuals in a social network. Whereas entitativity of small social networks slowly increased with a higher level of connectivity, entitativity of large social networks rapidly increased with a lower level of connectivity. The difference in the increase rates of entitativity is explained in terms of how individuals typically interact in different size of social networks.  Keywords : Social networks, entitativity, groups, perception  Running head: NETWORK ENTITATIVITY 3 Entitativity of Social Networks Under what circumstances does a mere collection of people deserve to be called a group? Some collections of individuals are nothing but a mere aggregate like a queue at the bus stop, whereas some others may be properly called a  group , for example, a well trained basket  ball team or a military platoon. It was Donald Campbell (Campbell, 1958) who paved a way to examining this question about „groupness‟ of a group by coining the term, entitativity , “ the degree of having the nature of an entity of having real existence (footnote 2, p. 17). ” After a long  period of dormancy, the re-introduction of this concept by Hamilton and Sherman (1996) and Brewer and Harasty (1996) placed the inquiries into perceptions of entitativity at the center of social psychological research on group perception in recent times (see Hamilton, 2007; Yzerbyt, Judd, & Corneille, 2004). As Hamilton (2007) noted, perceived entitativity influences information processing about groups; for instance, more entitative groups are more likely to attract dispositional inferences (Yzerbyt, Rogier, & Fiske, 1998), stereotyped (Spencer-Rodgers, Hamilton, & Sherman, 2007), and identified with (Castano, Yzerbyt, & Bourguignon, 2003; Yzerbyt, Castano, Leyens, & Paladino, 2000). The question of perceived entitativity lies at the heart of social psychology of groups. This raises an important question, what are the determinants of perceived entitativity? Lickel, et al.'s (2000) seminal work has shown that one of the most important determinants of entitativity perception is the extent to which individuals interact with each other. More  Running head: NETWORK ENTITATIVITY 4 specifically, their work identified several antecedents of entitativity perception: degree of interaction among the individuals, extent to which the individuals share common goals and common outcomes, similarity among the individuals, and importance of the group for the individuals. Among these antecedents, interaction was shown to be of great importance in shaping the perception of entitativity. This finding suggests that lay people regard interacting individuals and their relationships as giving rise to social entities like groups. Indeed, this view is consistent with social psychological theorizing (Gaertner & Schopler, 1998; Postmes, Spears, Lee, & Novak, 2005; Wilder & Simon, 1998) as well as social network approaches to groups (Janicik & Larrick, 2005; Kilduff & Krackhardt, 2008). Despite the recognition of the importance of social interaction as a significant determinant of entitativity perception, a precise relation between interaction and entitativity perception is yet to be examined. The primary aim of this paper is to address this question. Group and Social Network In this paper, we adopt a social network perspective, which conceptualizes interactions among individuals as represented by connections among them. In particular, social networks are composed of a set of individuals (nodes) and relationships (ties) connecting them. In this  perspective, individuals and their actions are seen as interdependent (Wasserman & Faust, 1994), and a social group may emerge through interaction and communication among individuals embedded in the social network (see Mason, Conrey, & Smith, 2007; McIntyre, Paulson, Lord, & Lepper, 2004).  Running head: NETWORK ENTITATIVITY 5 Figure 1 presents a social network graph. Although it may look somewhat abstract, it is  becoming increasingly common to represent patterns of social interaction in terms of social networks consisting of nodes and ties. For example, managers in organizations are increasingly familiar with social network analysis of informal relationships among employees to promote innovation, develop communities of practice, and diagnose information and knowledge flow within and across groups (Cross & Parker, 2004). With the advent of the Internet, visualizing and mapping relationships of online social networking communities are also becoming commonplace (Christakis & Fowler, 2009). Insert Figure 1 about here Those social connections among individuals, as represented by ties among nodes, are network connectivity. To put it simply, our primary aim is to examine the connectivity-entitativty relation , that is, how social network connections among individuals are related to entitativity  perception. As we will argue later, our contention is that there is a systematic and lawful connectivity-entitativity relation; however, it is possible that the connectivity-entitativity relation for large networks may differ from that for small networks. As Lickel, Hamilton, and Sherman (2001) noted, relationship patterns in a small face-to-face group seem to be quite different to those in a large-scale community. In the following, we first review the evidence that points to the existence of different connectivity-entitativity relations for large and small networks, and
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