Resource 

The Power of Structure in Exchange

Abstract:

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The objective of this exercise is to emphasize the importance of environmental factors in exchange – specifically, an actor’s position within a network. Research on network exchange theory (NET) has a long history of examining how the structure of a network influences exchange, noting how network structure can both encourage and discourage exchanges. This exercise, developed for upper-level students studying social psychology/NET, also aims to clarify the assumptions of NET, the differences between strong and weak networks, and the way in which network structures are likely to break. The latter is calculated using the graph-theoretic power index (GPI): a formula based upon the counting of path lengths. This assignment is best used in a smaller class, although it can be adapted for larger classes.

Details:

Resource Type(s):
Class Activity 
Author(s):
Matthew A. Pfeiffer, Kent State University 
Date Published:
4/10/2015 
Subject Area:
Social Psychology 
Class Level:
College 400 
Class Size:
Small 
Language:
English 


Usage Notes:

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The objective of this activity is to emphasize the importance of environmental factors in exchange – specifically, an actor’s position within a network. Research on network exchange theory (NET) has a long history of examining how the structure of a network influences exchange, noting how network structure can both encourage...

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
Students will participate in an in-class activity that will highlight the importance of their position in the network. By participating in this activity, students will learn how their position in the network either encourages or discourages exchange.
Assessment 1:
Students will fill out a question and answer sheet for each round of exchange. For each round of exchange, students will be asked a series of questions that will have them reflect on how their position in the network affects their ability to exchange.
Goal 2:
Students will discuss the in-class activity they participated in and be introduced to network exchange theory (NET), the differences between strong and weak networks, and how to calculate and use the graph-theoretic power index (GPI).
Assessment 2:
Students’ knowledge on network exchange theory (NET) will be assessed based on a homework assignment given at the end of class. This homework assignment will be completed outside of the classroom and will be due the next class period.

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