Sociometry: A Science of Human Relations
Sociometry is a branch of the social sciences based on the work of Jacob L. Moreno, M.D. (1890-1974) which studies the formation and construction of groups and which features methods to describe and account for the interpersonal relations in groups. The degree of acceptance and rejection for others in specific roles is obtained, measured, and depicted in ways to facilitate open discussing of the individual's impact on the group's structure and cohesion, and the group's construction as it impacts the individual. Persons trained in sociometric methods focus on groups or team building, social networks, community, leadership, isolation, mutuality, incongruity, status, motivation and sociometric perception.
The Underlying Philosophy
Moreno's sociometric principles and approach are set forth in the editions of Who Shall Survive? Foundations of Sociometry, Group Psychotherapy and Sociodrama (1934, 1953, 1978). He states that he "suffered" from an idee fixe that each person inherits a primordial nature which is immortal and is sacred. And, it is from this nature that rises the capacity for creativity, a creativity which must be directed toward preserving life, that all may survive. To organize a universe of varied cultures, beliefs, and ways of interacting for this supreme task requires a system of sufficient complexity to investigate existing interrelating, and sufficient heart to motivate persons to value one another, actively.,
Sociometric methods result in heightened consciousness; perceptions are identified, corrected and eventually sharpened. Group members may then make informed choices with an awareness of collective choice making and the role his or her choices has on the group as a whole.
The Social Atom
The student of sociometry becomes both participant and observer of his/her own life, exploring on paper and in action that nucleus of persons to whom he/she is connected. What is observed and measured is the nearness and distance which exists (or is desired) and accounting for inclusion in or exclusion from one's circle. The group explored may be a public group or a private circle of friends.
The Sociometric Test
A group explores the collective impact of their choices upon one another and upon the whole. A criterion on which to base choices is selected, and group members identify on paper or in action the range of choices (to choose, to not choose, to remain neutral) and the degree of positive and negative feeling underlying their choices. At times, group members may make perceptual guesses about the choices others may have made for him or her. Following disclosure in pairs, the results are depicted in a sociogram. which is drawn or enacted in ways to highlight several factors: nearness and distance, level of choice (highly overchosen to highly underchosen), level of reciprocity, existence of subgroups. The group then discusses the results and ways to enhance its construction in order to sustain its purposes and goals.
The Role Diagram
Pairs, triads and small groups may investigate their responses to one another by identifying the roles in which they interact and the feeling responses they have toward one another in the role. A list of role names is charted and a system of notation employed for use in identifying feelings, or changes in feelings.
Essential to the sociometrist is the capacity to facilitate exploration of the results of the investigations, principally through the reciprocal process of role reversal. Persons engaged in sociometric procedures will be unable to accurately reveal to themselves or another their true choices if they are unable to rely upon skilled treatment or differences as they arise. The sociometrist facilitates conflicts, impasses, and the meeting of persons who are beginning to know one another.
Sociometry also includes a large number of exercises and activities designed to enhance belonging, cooperation, cohesion, openness and access to roles. Every structured warm up activity is a sociometric event. Each time a leader asks group members to pick a partner, a sociometric event is taking place. The study of sociometry gives attention to the design and underlying principles of those activities.
Applications of Sociometry
Sociometric methods have been applied in:
- Family therapy
- Counselling psychotherapy patients
- Education, in classrooms and the training of teachers
- Town planning and community building
- Political campaigns
- Business and industry, particularly in organization development
- Children's camps
- Military services
- Congregation revitalization
The Training of Sociometrists
Sociometrists receive training in conjunction with training in psychodrama and group psychotherapy from national training centres and from persons holding national certification as Trainer/ Educator/ Practitioner by the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy in Washington, D.C.
Further information about national training centres, ongoing training and regional workshops can be obtained by contacting:
TORONTO CENTRE FOR PSYCHODRAMA AND SOCIOMETRY
2100 Bloor Street West, Suite 6-277, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M6S 5A5
Tel: (416) 724-3385
Additional Sources In Sociometry
Rethinking Sociometry: Toward the Reunification of Theory, Philosophy, Methodology and Praxis.
Mendelsson, Peter Dean, PhD., Dissertation, St. Louis, Washington University, 1976.
Who Shall Survive? Foundations of Sociometry, Group Psychotherapy and Sociometry.
Moreno, Jacob L., Beacon, NY, Beacon House, 1953,1978.
Conducting Clinical Sociometric Explorations.Hale, Ann E., Roanoke, VA, Royal Publishing Company, 1985.