Do You Two Know Each Other? Transitivity, Homophily, and the Need for (Network) Closure

Do You Two Know Each Other? Transitivity, Homophily, and the Need for (Network) Closure

By
Francis J. Flynn, Ray E. Reagans, Lucia Guillory
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. November
2010, Vol. 99, Issue 5, Pages 855-869

The authors investigate whether need for closure affects how people seek order in judging social relations. In Study 1, the authors find that people who have a high need for closure (NFC) were more likely to assume their social contacts were connected to each other (i.e., transitivity) when this was not the case. In Studies 2 and 3, the authors examine another form of order in network relations—racial homophily—and find that high-NFC participants were more inclined to believe that 2 individuals from the same racial category (e.g., African American) were friends than two racially dissimilar individuals. Furthermore, high-NFC individuals were more likely to make errors when judging a racially mixed group of people; specifically, they recalled more racial homophily (racially similar people sitting closer together) than had actually appeared.