Social network schemas and the learning of incomplete networks.
Social networks that are missing relations among some of their members--termed incomplete networks--have been of critical theoretical and empirical interest in sociological research on weak ties and structural holes but typically have been overlooked in social psychological studies of network learning. Five studies tested for schematic processing differences in the encoding and recalling of incomplete networks. In Studies 1 and 2, prior knowledge of missing relations facilitated learning an unfamiliar, incomplete network. Study 3 ruled out differences in general pattern recognition ability as an explanation. Study 4 manipulated the degree of familiarity with missing relations, which produced predicted differences in learning rates. Finally, Study 5 examined how improved learning of an incomplete network affected a strategic organizational choice. The findings suggest that people can become schematic for complex, incomplete social networks.
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