Sociometry is a method for visualising positions in a group and can be used for all kinds of purposes. It can be used for getting to know each other, for exploring group dynamics and for seeing where the group stands concerning certain topics.
Sociometric explorations highlight underlying group dynamics of a given group: the alliances, the subgroups, the hidden beliefs, the forbidden agendas, the ideological agreements, the ‘stars’ of the show. In this activity, we’ll explore different ways how sociometry can be applied.
Group / Experiential
To increase awareness of diversity within groups
To increase ability to engage in effective discussions with people with different agendas/ opinions/backgrounds
To learn methods to quickly visualise an overview of opinions of a large group
Required Materials and Tools:
A large clear space to move freely in.
Symbols for two extreme positions (It can be as simple as a red and a green sheet of paper).
There are several basic prototypes of “sociometric” positioning:
Sociometric positioning can be used as a method for getting an overview about some aspects of a group.
Arrange the group so they are standing in a big circle. Inform the participants that the middle of the circle represents ‘yes’, and by staying still they answer ‘no’.
Ask yes or no questions, for example; ‘everybody who … likes tofu, has divorced parents, has siblings, has already been to a summer camp, is younger than 15, is looking for somebody to fall in love with, eats vegan (etc. etc.) move accordingly’.
You can start with some questions that you as a facilitator ask, and later on invite the group to ask the question that interests them [allow 15 minutes for this exercise].
Sociometry can be used when you have a meeting with different stakeholders. It enables visualising the different stakeholders in order to overcome a feeling of “We” and “Them”.
Physically divide participants into 4 groups in the room (A, B, C and D), these groups represent the different stakeholder groups. This shows the different groups and makes them more explicit.
In order to create a sense of connection between the different groups, ask questions with personal content. For example, the question of who is a single child and who has 1- 2- 3 or more siblings.
Ask the participants to raise their hands in response, this highlights the connectedness which penetrates the original groups and thus reduces the feeling of “We” and “Them”.
Sociometry can also be used for mapping opinions of the people in a group. For any question that the group is discussing, you can define points that represent a certain opinion. For example: ‘If you think that we should increase the membership fee, go to this corner. If you think, we shouldn’t go to the other corner’.
Ask a question relevant to the situation, for example, ‘what do you think of Europe's response to the refugee crisis?’ The middle of the room will represent ‘they have been very accommodating’ and the furthest point away from the centre will represent ‘they have not helped’.
Invite participants to walk around in the space and to stop at the position that best reflects their opinion.
When everybody is standing, have the group look at the constellation that has formed.
Invite participants to explain why they are standing where they are.
If appropriate, there can be a group discussion about the reasons for the different positions [allow 15 minutes].
Make the participants aware that they may change position if they wish as a result of the discussion.
Gather the whole group after the exercise and ask them the following questions;
How did you feel in terms of connection to the whole group after exercise ‘A’?
How might exercise ‘B’ enable the diverse stakeholder groups to work together more effectively?
What were the advantages and disadvantages of using Sociometry in exercise ‘C’ as a tool to map the opinions of a large group on an important issue?
Instructions for Submission
Submit a written reflection of key points expressed by participants during the reflection. Instructions on how to upload photos and how to submit things in Moodle can be found here: Instructions on Submission&Uploading
Instructions for Assessment
Provide feedback to at least one participant that has done this activity. Instructions on providing feedback can be found here: Instructions on Feedback
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