Sociometric Assessment

Sociometric assessment is the measurement of interpersonal relationships in a social group. Socio-metric measurement or assessment methods provide information about an individual's social status, which is their social standing within a group. School-based sociometric assessment focuses on a child's relationships with peers. Most sociometric assessment methods derive information on social relationships by assessing children's positive and negative social perceptions of one another. Researchers have found that sociometric assessment can be useful in identifying children's social standing and predicting children's positive or negative social outcomes.

Measuring and understanding a child's social status is important for several reasons. The establishment of friendships and positive social interactions are important for children's social development. Children with poor peer relationships often experience negative social and emotional consequences that can continue throughout adulthood. These negative consequences can include depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, poor self-concept, social withdrawal, and antisocial behaviors such as aggression and criminality. Researchers have estimated that at least 1 in 10 children experience negative peer relationships. Therefore, a large number of children with poor social relationships may be at risk for developing behavioral and emotional difficulties.

Sociometric assessment methods were introduced in the 1930s. In the 1950s, several books were published on the topic of sociometrics, and sociometric measurements often were part of research and school-based assessments of children's social relationships. The use of sociometric procedures declined in the following decades with the advancement of social behavior rating scales and ethical concerns related to the use of sociometric methods.

There are a variety of sociometric assessment techniques. The most widely used is peer nominations, in which children in a social group or school classroom anonymously identify social preferences for their classmates. For example, children may be asked to provide a list of three classmates with whom they would most like to play and three with whom they would least like to play. Another peer nomination technique is to provide a list of names of the children in a classroom along with social acceptance items (e.g., "Who do you like to play with?" "Who is most likely to be alone during recess?" "Who gets into trouble the most?"). The children are asked to place an 'X' next to the name of one to three classmates who they perceive best fits the item description (Figure 1). An alternative for early readers is to use photographs rather than a list of names and to read the items aloud in either an individual or group classroom setting. In either method, the numbers of nominations are summed for each child, and the results are used to identify children who are positively and negatively perceived by their peers.

Other sociometric techniques can be described as peer ratings and sociometric rankings. Peer ratings are conducted by providing a list of children's names in the social group or classroom along with a rating for social acceptance items. The ratings methods that are used may vary, typically ranging from three to five responses (e.g., Agree, Neutral, Disagree). In contrast to peer nominations and ratings, sociometric rankings are completed by an adult(s), most often the classroom teacher.

The applications of sociometric assessment methods have resulted in controversy and ethical concerns regarding their use. These concerns center on the use of negative nominations and the possibility that children will compare responses, which may result in negative social and emotional consequences for children who are not positively perceived by their peers. These concerns have contributed to the decline in the use of sociometric assessment methods, particularly in school settings. However, researchers have found no evidence that negative consequences occur. Therefore, sociometric assessment continues to be used as a research tool for understanding children's social relationships.

See also Behavior Intervention; Self-Concept and Efficacy;

Social-Emotional Assessment

Place an X under the name of one classmate in answer to each question below
















Who would you most like to play with?

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  • brooklyn
    What is sociometric assessment?
    3 years ago
  • Rory
    What is sociometrics in assessment?
    2 years ago
  • marlene
    What is sociometric assessment and what it means?
    1 year ago
  • jemima
    What are sociometric techniques under what conditions does it make sense to use them?
    1 year ago
  • wegahta
    Which question would you be most likely to find on a sociometric assessment?
    9 months ago
    Is socimoteric methods ethical?
    4 months ago

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