Brewer, D. D. (2000). Forgetting in the recall-based elicitation of personal and social networks. Social Networks, 22, 29-43. Reprinted with permission from Elsevier.
Forgetting in the recall-based elicitation of personal and social networks poses a potentially significant problem for the collection of complete network data and unbiased measurement of network characteristics and properties. A comprehensive review of the literature shows that forgetting is a pervasive, non-trivial phenomenon in the recall-based elicitation of personal and social networks pertaining to a broad variety of social relations. There appear to be no good predictors of individuals’ proportional level of forgetting, although the number of persons an individual recalls is moderately positively correlated with the number of persons he or she forgets. People seem to be more likely to forget weak ties than strong ties, but the evidence is mixed on this point. In any event, people still forget a significant proportion of their close contacts. Nonspecific prompting for additional relevant persons, multiple elicitation questions, and reinterviewing enhance recall slightly to moderately and are the only methods currently available to counteract forgetting, albeit only partially.
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