Brewer, D. D.,
& Webster, C. M. (1999). Forgetting of friends and its effects on
measuring friendship networks. Social
Networks, 21, 361-373. Reprinted with
permission from Elsevier.
assessed the forgetting of friends and its effects on measuring
personal and social network characteristics and properties. All
217 residents of a university residence hall first recalled as many of
their friends in the hall as they could. Then,
on a complete list of hall residents, residents indicated other friends
they forgot to recall. On average, residents forgot 20% of their
friends. Residents' demographic characteristics are unrelated to
the proportion of friends forgotten. However, the number of
friends recalled correlates moderately positively with the number of
friends forgotten. Recalled and forgotten friends do not differ
appreciably in terms of their individual characteristics, although
residents on average had modestly closer relationships with recalled
friends than forgotten friends. Forgetting also influenced the
measurement of some social network structural properties, such as
density, number of cliques, centralization, and individuals'
More research is required to determine whether forgetting distorts
measurement of structural properties in other settings.
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