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Inferring signed networks from preschoolers' observed parallel and social play


Early childhood is an important developmental period for network formation. However, the observational methods used for measuring young children’s networks present challenges for capturing both positive and negative ties. To overcome these challenges, we explored the use of a bipartite projection backbone model for inferring both negative and positive ties from observational data of children’s play. Using observational data collected in one 3-year-old (N = 17) and one 4-year-old (N = 18) preschool classroom, we examined whether patterns of homophily, triadic closure, and balance in networks inferred using this method matched theoretical and empirical expectations from the early childhood literature. Consistent with this literature, we found that signed networks inferred using a backbone model exhibited gender homophily in positive ties and gender heterophily in negative ties. Additionally, networks inferred from social play exhibited more closed and balanced triads than networks inferred from parallel play. These findings offer evidence of the validity of bipartite projection backbone models for inferring signed networks from preschoolers’ observed play. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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