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Open AccessArticle

The Push and Pull of Network Mobility: How Those High in Trait-Level Neuroticism Can Come to Occupy Peripheral Network Positions

1
Institute for Analytical Sociology, LINKS Center for Social Network Analysis, Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40507, USA
2
London Business School, University of London, London NW1 4SA, UK
3
Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(7), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9070069
Received: 8 May 2019 / Revised: 3 June 2019 / Accepted: 5 June 2019 / Published: 28 June 2019
Field research shows that people’s network positions are determined, at least in part, by their traits. For instance, over time, actors higher in trait-level neuroticism move out to the network periphery. What is unknown is how this happens. Drawing on personality and social psychological theory, we generated a model that could explain the movement of actors who are higher in neuroticism. Our aim is to add to the existing empirical literature on the interplay of actor level traits and social networks, and do so using methods that can establish possible causal pathways. In four experiments, we tested two explanatory mechanisms—aversion on the part of alters and avoidance on the part of focal actors. Results showed that potential alters indeed perceived actors higher in neuroticism as aversive, leading them to block these actors from well-connected spots. Specifically, low perceived levels of likability prevented actors from being nominated to better positions. In a test of avoidance, actors higher in neuroticism recognized the benefits of better-connected network positions, but also saw them as costly, and thus, declined opportunities to occupy them. This work shows how both alters and egos can determine egos’ place in networks, and specifies how this is done. View Full-Text
Keywords: social networks; individual differences; traits; neuroticism; emotional stability; network evolution; experiment social networks; individual differences; traits; neuroticism; emotional stability; network evolution; experiment
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Gladstone, E.; O’Connor, K.M.; Taylor, W. The Push and Pull of Network Mobility: How Those High in Trait-Level Neuroticism Can Come to Occupy Peripheral Network Positions. Behav. Sci. 2019, 9, 69.

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