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Measuring Patterns of Acquaintanceship [and Comments and Reply]

Peter D. Killworth, H. Russell Bernard, Christopher McCarty, Patrick Doreian, Sheldon Goldenberg, Cliff Underwood, Peter Harries-Jones, R. M. Keesing, John Skvoretz and Monica Von Sury Wemegah
Current Anthropology
Vol. 25, No. 4 (Aug. - Oct., 1984), pp. 381-397
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2742900
Page Count: 17
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Measuring Patterns of Acquaintanceship [and Comments and Reply]
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Abstract

This paper examines some of the factors which determine how people know each other and is a preliminary attempt to discover the rules which govern such interactions. An informant-defined experiment was conducted to elicit the information about a person needed by individuals in a small U.S. university town to choose which of their acquaintances was most likely to know that person. We found, as with a previous experiment, that knowledge of the person's location, occupation, hobbies, organizations, age, sex, and marital status was sufficient for this task. These seven facts were then provided for 500 mythical persons spread evenly around the world except that 100 of them supposedly lived in the United States. Forty informants then told us, for each name on the list, whom they knew who was most likely to know that person and why. We found that the data differed little from those of our previous studies in other parts of the United States, suggesting that the instruments is reliable. Of the choices, 86% were friends, 64% male; choices were predominantly made on the basis of the listed person's location or occupation. Factor analysis of similarity matrices based on informant response has allowed categorization for world locations, occupations, and hobbies. Some 23 location categories, 12 ocupation categories, and 13 hobby categories were found. The implications of our findings are discussed in the framework of work in other cultures.

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