Skip to main content

Positive Affectivity and Accuracy in Social Network Perception

Abstract

We investigated how positive affectivity influences people's perception of the patterns of social relationships around them. Positive affectivity was measured as trait positive affect. The outcome variable was accuracy in the perception of informal patterns of social interaction in a group (i.e., the group's network structure). Data on the perception of the relationships of friendship and work-related advice at an Italian university were collected from 24 members. Positive affectivity improved the accuracy of people's perception of the friendship network linking all respondents to each other (global accuracy), but hindered the accuracy of the perception of one's personal advice ties (local accuracy). These results suggest that, although happy people may feed unrealistic images of their personal social connections, their superior ability to develop an accurate picture of the broader dynamics of social interaction among people around them may give them an important advantage for social and professional accomplishment in a given social setting.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

REFERENCES

  • Ackermann, R., & DeRubeis, R. J. (1991). Is depressive realism real? Clinical Psychology Review, 11, 565–584.

    Google Scholar 

  • Aderman, D. (1972). Elation, depression, and helping behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24, 91–101.

    Google Scholar 

  • Alloy, L. B. (Ed.). (1988). Cognitive processes in depression. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Alloy, L. B., & Abramson, L. Y. (1988). Depressive realism: Four theoretical perspectives. In L. B. Alloy (Ed.). Cognitive processes in depression (pp. 223–264). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Arkes, H. R., Herren, L. T., & Isen, A. M. (1988). Role of possible loss in the influence of positive affect on risk preference. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 42, 181–193.

    Google Scholar 

  • Aspinwall, L. G. (1998). Rethinking the role of positive affect in self-regulation. Motivation and Emotion, 22, 1–32.

    Google Scholar 

  • Banks, D., & Carley, K. M. (1994). Metric inference for social networks. Journal of Classification, 11, 121–149.

    Google Scholar 

  • Benassi, V. A., & Mahler, H. I. M. (1985). Contingency judgments by depressed college students: Sadder but not always wiser. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 1323–1329.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bernard, H. R., Killworth, P. D., & Sailer, L. (1980). Informant accuracy in social network data: IV. A comparison of clique-level structure and behavioral and cognitive data. Social Networks, 2, 191–218.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bernard, H. R., Killworth, P. D., & Sailer, L. (1982). Informant accuracy in social network data: V. An experimental attempt to predict actual communication from recall data. Social Science Research, 11, 30–66.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blaney, P. H. (1986). Affect and memory: A review. Psychological Bulletin, 99, 229–246.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bless, H., Clore, G. L., Schwarz, N., Golizano, V., Rabe, C., & Wölk, M. (1996). Mood and the use of scripts: Does a happy mood really lead to mindlessness? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 665–679.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bodenhausen, G. V., Kramer, G. P., & Susser, K. (1994). Happiness and stereotypic thinking in social judgment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 621–632.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bondonio, D. (1998). Predictors of accuracy in perceiving informal social networks. Social Networks, 20, 301–330.

    Google Scholar 

  • Burt, R. (1987). Toward a structural theory of action. New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Campbell, J. D., & Fairey, P. J. (1985). Effects of self-esteem, hypothetical explanations, and verbalization of expectancies on future performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 1097–1111.

    Google Scholar 

  • Campbell, J. D., & Fehr, B. (1990). Self-esteem and perceptions of conveyed impressions: Is negative affectivity associated with greater realism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 122–133.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cardy, R. L., & Dobbins, G. H. (1986). Affect and appraisal accuracy: Liking as an integral dimension in evaluating performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 71, 672–678.

    Google Scholar 

  • Casciaro, T. (1998). Seeing things clearly: Social structure, personality, and accuracy in social network perception. Social Network, 20, 331–351.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, M. S., Milberg, S., & Erber, R. (1988). Arousal-state-dependent memory: Evidence and implications for understanding social judgments and social behavior. In K. Fiedler & J. Forgas (Eds.), Affect, cognition, and social behavior (pp. 63–83). Toronto, Canada: Hogrefe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clore, G. L., Schwarz, N., & Conway, M. (1994). Cognitive causes and consequences of emotion. In R. S. Wyer & T. K. Srull (Eds.), Handbook of social cognition (pp. 323–417). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cooley, C. H. (1902). Human nature and the social order. New York: Scribner's.

    Google Scholar 

  • Costa, P. T., & McRae, R. R. (1982). Influence of extroversion and neuroticism on subjective well-being: Happy and unhappy people. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 668–678.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coyne, J. C. (1976). Depression and the response of others. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85, 186–193.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coyne, J. C., & Gotlib, I. H. (1983). The role of cognition in depression: A critical appraisal. Psychological Bulletin, 94, 472–505.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cronbach, L. J. (1955). Processes affecting scores of “understanding of others” and “assumed similarity.” Psychological Bulletin, 52, 177–193.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cunningham, M. R. (1979). Weather, mood, and helping behavior: Quasi-experiments in the sunshine Samaritan. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1947–1956.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cunningham, M. R., Shaffer, D. R., Barbee, A. P., Wolff, P. L., & Kelly, D. J. (1990). Separate processes in the relation of elation and depression to helping. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 26, 13–33.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dunning, D., & Story, A. L. (1991). Depression, realism, and the overconfidence effect: Are the sadder wiser when predicting future action events? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 521–532.

    Google Scholar 

  • Estrada, C. A., Isen, A. M., & Young, M. J. (1997). Positive affect facilitates integration of new information and decreases anchoring in reasoning among physicians. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 72, 117–135.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fiedler, K. (1988). Emotional mood, cognitive style, and behavior regulation. In K. Fiedler & J. P. Forgas (Eds.), Affect, cognition, and social behavior (pp. 100–119). Toronto, Canada: Hogrefe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social cognition. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Freeman, L. C., Freeman, S. C., & Michaelson, A. G. (1988). On human social intelligence. Journal of Social and Biological Structures, 11, 415–425.

    Google Scholar 

  • Freeman, L. C., Romney, A. K., & Freeman, S. C. (1987). Cognitive structure and informant accuracy. American Anthropologist, 89, 310–325.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gower, J. C., & Legendre, P. (1986). Metric and Euclidean properties of dissimilarity coefficients. Journal of Classification, 3, 5–48.

    Google Scholar 

  • Heise, D. R. (1979). Understanding events: Affect and the construction of social action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Heise, D. R. (1987). Affect control theory: Concepts and model. Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 13, 1–33.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hochschild, A. R. (1983). The managed heart: The commercialization of feeling. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Homans, G. C. (1961). Social behavior: Its elementary forms. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.

    Google Scholar 

  • Howard, J. A., & Callero, P. L. (1991). The self-society dynamic: Cognition, emotion, and action. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Isen, A. M. (1984). Toward understanding the role of affect in cognition. In R. S. Wyer, Jr., & T. K. Srull (Eds.), Handbook of social cognition, 3 (pp. 179–236). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Isen, A. M. (1987). Positive affect, cognitive processes, and social behavior. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, 20 (pp. 203–253). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Isen, A. M. (1993). Positive affect and decision making. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp. 261–277). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Isen, A. M., & Daubman, K. A. (1984). The influence of affect on categorization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1206–1217.

    Google Scholar 

  • Isen, A. M., Johnson, M. M. S., Mertz, E., & Robinson, G. F. (1985). The influence of positive affect on the unusualness of word associations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 1413–1426.

    Google Scholar 

  • Isen, A. M., & Levin, P. F. (1972). Effect of feeling good on helping: Cookies and kindness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 21, 384–388.

    Google Scholar 

  • Isen, A. M., & Means, B. (1983). The influence of positive affect on decision-making strategy. Social Cognition, 2, 18–31.

    Google Scholar 

  • Isen, A. M., Niedenthal, P., & Cantor, N. (1992). An influence of positive affect on social categorization. Motivation and Emotion, 16, 65–78.

    Google Scholar 

  • Isen, A. M., Rosenweig, A. S., & Young, M. J. (1991). The influence of positive affect on clinical problem solving. Medical Decision Making, 11, 221–227.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kapci, E. G., & Cramer, D. (1999). Judgment of control revisited: Are depressed realistic or pessimistic? Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 12, 95–105.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kenny, D. A. (1994). Interpersonal perception. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kilduff, M., & Krackhardt, D. (1994). Bringing the individual back in: A structural analysis of the internal market for reputation in organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 37, 87–108.

    Google Scholar 

  • Killworth, P. D., & Bernard, R. H. (1976). Informant accuracy in social network data. Human Organization, 35, 269–286.

    Google Scholar 

  • Krackhardt, D. (1987). Cognitive social structures. Social Networks, 9, 109–134.

    Google Scholar 

  • Krackhardt, D. (1988). Predicting with networks: Nonparametric multiple regression analysis of dyadic data. Social Networks, 10, 359–381.

    Google Scholar 

  • Krackhardt, D. (1990). Assessing the political landscape: Structure, cognition, and power in organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, 342–369

    Google Scholar 

  • Krackhardt, D. (1992). The strength of strong ties: The importance of philos in organizations. In N. Nohria & R. G. Eccles (Eds.), Networks and organizations. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kramer, R. M. (1996). Divergent realities and convergent disappointments in the hierarchic relation. In R. M. Kramer & T. T. Tyler (Eds.), Trust in organizations: Frontiers of theory and research (pp. 216–245). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kumbasar, E., Romney, A. K., & Batchelder, W. H. (1994). Systematic bias in social perception. American Journal of Sociology, 100, 477–505.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lee, A. Y., & Sternthal, B. (1999). The effects of positive mood on memory. Journal of Consumer Research, 26, 115–127.

    Google Scholar 

  • Leinhardt, S. (1977). Social networks: A developing paradigm. New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lewinsohn, P. M., Mischel, W., Chaplin, W., & Barton, R. (1980). Social competence and depression: The role of illusory self-perceptions. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89, 203–212.

    Google Scholar 

  • Martin, D. J., Abramson, L. Y., & Alloy, L. B. (1984). Illusion of control for self and others in depressed and nondepressed college students. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 125–136.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mayer, J. R., & Volanth, A. J. (1985). Cognitive involvement in the mood response system. Motivation and Emotion, 9, 261–275.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morris, A. (1997). Perceptions of social structure, others and self: The role of social intelligence in managerial effectiveness. Unpublished manuscript. University of California, Irvine, CA.

  • Murray, N., Sujan, H., Hirt, E. R., & Sujan, M. (1990). The influence of mood on categorization: A cognitive flexibility interpretation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 411–425.

    Google Scholar 

  • Musson, R. F., & Alloy, L. B. (1988). Depression and self-directed attention. In L. B. Alloy (Ed.), Cognitive processes in depression (pp. 193–220). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nelson, R. E., & Craighead, W. E. (1977). Selective recall of positive and negative feedback, self-control behavior, and depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 86, 379–388.

    Google Scholar 

  • Parducci, A. (1968). The relativism of absolute judgments. Scientific American, 219, 84–90.

    Google Scholar 

  • Romney, A., Weller, K. S., & Batchelder, W. (1986). Culture as consensus: A theory of culture and informant accuracy. American Anthropologist, 88, 313–338.

    Google Scholar 

  • Russell, J. A. (1980). A circumplex model of affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 1161–1178.

    Google Scholar 

  • Russell, J. A., & Feldman Barrett, L. (1999). Core affect, prototypical emotional episodes, and other things called emotion: Dissecting the elephant. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 805–819.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scheff, T. (1990). Microsociology: Discourse, emotion, and social structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scheier, M. F., Weintrub, J. K., & Carver, C. S. (1986). Coping with stress: Dovergent strategies of optimists and pessimists. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 1162–1172.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scherer, K., & Ekman, P. (Eds.). (1984). Approaches to emotions. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sears, D. O. (1983). The person-positivity bias. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 233–240.

    Google Scholar 

  • Seligman, M. E. P., & Schulman, P. (1986). Explanatory style as a predictor of productivity and quitting among life insurance sales agents. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24, 161–199.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shott, S. (1979). Emotion and social life: A symbolic interactionist analysis. American Journal of Sociology, 84, 1317–1334.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith, A. C., & Kleinman, S. (1989). Managing emotions in medical school: Students' contacts with the living and the dead. Social Psychology Quarterly, 52, 56–69.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith-Lovin, L. (1987). Affect control theory: An assessment. Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 13, 171–192.

    Google Scholar 

  • Staw, B., & Barsade, S. G. (1993). Affect and managerial performance: A test of the sadder-but-wiser vs. happier-and-smarter hypotheses. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38, 304–331.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tabachnik, N., Crocker, J., & Alloy, L. B. (1983). Depression, social comparison, and the false consensus effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 688–699.

    Google Scholar 

  • Taft, R. (1955). The ability to judge people. Psychological Bulletin, 56, 333–352.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tellegen, A. (1982). Brief manual for the Differential Personality Questionnaire. Unpublished manuscript.

  • Thibaut, J. W., & Kelley, H. H. (1959). The social psychology of groups. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, 185, 1124–1131.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wasserman, S., & Galaskiewicz, J. (Eds.). (1994). Advances in social network analysis: Research in the social and behavioral sciences. Sage.

  • Watson, D. (1988). The vicissitudes of mood measurement: Effects of varying descriptors, time frames, and response formats on measures of positive and negative affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 128–141.

    Google Scholar 

  • Watson, D., & Clark, L. A. (1997). Measurement and mismeasurement of mood: Recurrent and emergent issues. Journal of Personality Assessment, 68, 267–296.

    Google Scholar 

  • Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Carey, G. (1988). Positive and negative affectivity and their relation to anxiety and depressive disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97, 346–353.

    Google Scholar 

  • Watson, D., & Tellegen, A. (1985). Toward a consensual structure of mood. Psychological Bulletin, 98, 219–235.

    Google Scholar 

  • Watson, D., Wiese, D., Vaidya, J., & Tellegen, A. (1999). The two general activation systems of affect: Structural findings, evolutionary considerations, and psychological evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 820–838.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wellman, B., & Berkowitz (Eds.). (1988). Social structures: A network approach. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Casciaro, T., Carley, K.M. & Krackhardt, D. Positive Affectivity and Accuracy in Social Network Perception. Motivation and Emotion 23, 285–306 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021390826308

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021390826308

Keywords

  • Social Interaction
  • Positive Affectivity
  • Local Accuracy
  • Social Setting
  • Social Connection