A classmates are your best friends? Which three

A sociogram is a visual representation or map of the relationships between individuals. Learn more about sociograms from examples and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition of Sociogram

Suppose you are a seventh grade teacher. There are ten students in your classroom: Mike, Olivia, Connor, Tracy, Lena, Darren, James, Tiona, Lisa, and Taylor. You notice that your male and female students have not been getting along well in recent weeks.

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You are interested in looking at the relationships between your students to help you understand what is going on in your classroom. One method that can help you examine relationships is creating a sociogram.A sociogram is a visual depiction of the relationships among a specific group.

The purpose of a sociogram is to uncover the underlying relationships between people. A sociogram can be used to increase your understanding of group behaviors.

How Do You Create a Sociogram?

Before you begin to create a sociogram of the students in your classroom, you must first come up with a criterion, which is what you want to measure. The criterion that you use is usually some question about a specific type of social interaction. A criterion can be either positive or negative.Positive criterions are those that ask the students to choose something that they either enjoy or would like to participate in with others.

Negative criterions ask students to choose something that they would not enjoy. Negative criterions are used to discover resistance or rejection in interpersonal relationships.Examples of positive criterions that can be used to create a sociogram are:

  • Which three classmates would you most like to go on a vacation with?
  • Which three classmates are your best friends?
  • Which three classmates do you like the most?

Examples of negative criterions that can be used to create a sociogram are:

  • Which three classmates would you least enjoy going on a vacation with?
  • Which three classmates do you like to be around the least?
  • Which three classmates would you least like to be stranded on an island with?

Once your students have all answered the question, you tabulate the results and use them to create a sociogram.

Example of a Sociogram

Suppose you decided to ask your students to choose the three classmates that are their best friends.This list shows your results:

This list contains the three best friends that each person chose.
This list contains the three people that each person would least like to go on a vacation with.
Class selections for three you would least like to go on vacation with.

You create two sociograms based on this information, one for the positive criterion and one for the negative criterion. You notice that all of the students picked either Mike or Olivia as one of their closest friends, so you decide to put Mike and Olivia at the center of your sociogram.

This sociogram was created using the positive criterion.
Positive sociogram
This sociogram was created using the negative criterion.
Negative criterion sociogram

How to Use a Sociogram

You find it interesting that all of the females have chosen Mike based off a negative criterion and all of the males chose Olivia based off a negative criterion, especially since Olivia and Mike appear to be leaders among their same-sex peers.

You decide to have a meeting with Mike and Olivia. You find out that Mike and Olivia used to date, but Mike dumped Olivia for a girl at another school. This caused animosity between the pair.Since Olivia is the leader among the females and Mike is the leader among the males, this caused tension between the males and the females in the classroom, which explains why they have become hostile toward each other. You decide to hold mediation between Mike and Olivia to help them resolve their issues.You also notice that Lisa appears to be socially isolated.

None of the people she chose as her best friends reciprocated her feelings. In fact, two of those individuals chose Lisa as someone they would not like to spend time with. You might decide to provide Lisa with training in social skills in order to improve the way others perceive her.You might decide to place your students in different groups where the males and females have to work together and cooperate with each other, including Lisa.

You might also decide to develop a good relationship with the classroom leaders Olivia and Mike. This will make it easier for you to get the leaders to buy into new classroom changes and rules, so that they can in turn influence the others to buy into them.Sociograms are not just tools that are used in classrooms.

Sociograms are also useful for:

  • Showing the relationships between fictional characters, such as those in a novel, play, or television show
  • Showing the relationships between a group of co-workers
  • Analyzing the social networks of an organization
  • Identifying cliques in a school or organization

Lesson Summary

A sociogram is a visual depiction of the relationships among a specific group. The purpose of a sociogram is to uncover the underlying relationships between people. A sociogram can be used to increase your understanding of group behaviors.In order to create a sociogram, you need a positive or negative criterion to measure. Sociograms can help teachers identify issues, social groups within the classroom, make changes in group structures, and more. Sociograms can also be used to show relationships in almost any setting, including organizations, schools, and classrooms.

Learning Outcomes

After concluding this lesson, you should be ready to:

  • Define a sociogram
  • Describe how to create a sociogram
  • Detail the use of a positive or negative criterion
  • Distinguish the purpose of and how to use a sociogram
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