Social scientists use two different methods for collecting information on the people with whom individuals discuss politics. Some surveys ask respondents to provide information about the people with whom they discuss "important matters," while other studies ask for information specifically on the individual's political discussants. Drawing on three of the most recently collected sources of data on this subject, we compare social network data that have been collected in these two different ways. The majority of our results show that the network data provided by survey respondents are very similar regardless of which network generator procedure is used. These results suggest that we do not consciously select specific individuals with whom to discuss politics. Instead, the individuals with whom we choose to discuss politics are the same people with whom we discuss other important matters in our lives. This finding has significant methodological and substantive implications for studies of social influence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Sciences(all)
- History and Philosophy of Science