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Article
Time Dependence in Micro Social Interaction: An Elaboration of Information Exchange Theory and Initial Empirical Test
Sociological Focus (2007)
  • Lisa Troyer, University of Iowa
  • Gayle Watkins
  • Steven D. Silver, San Jose State University
Abstract
Many micro sociological theories describe social interaction as a process, implying the importance of time. Yet, time is seriously undertheorized and underanalyzed in micro social interaction. We show that time plays a conceptually relevant role in information exchange theory. According to this theory, when actors contribute some types of information (like ideas) to a group, they are more likely to be negatively evaluated than if they contribute other types (like positive evaluations). In formation exchange theory conceptualizes information types that are more prone to be met with negative evaluation as more socially risky than those less prone to negative evaluation, since negative evaluations engender status loss for recipients. The theory posits that actors manage interaction to reduce social risk by avoiding more risky information initiations, especially when conditions are such that the likelthood of negative evaluations occurring in a group is particularly high. We propose that when higher risk in formation types are dense in the temporal space of interaction, then the likelihood of negative evaluation is higher, exacerbating the risk of these information types (and consequently, the likelihood of their occurrence declines). When lower risk information types are sparse in the temporal space of interaction, the likelihood of their occurrence increases as actors try to reduce the potential for conflict in social interaction. We use event history methods to test these claims on the role of time. Results not only support our contentions regarding the importance of time but also show that it is a crucial regulator of social interaction.
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Publication Date
2007
Publisher Statement
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Citation Information
Lisa Troyer, Gayle Watkins and Steven D. Silver. "Time Dependence in Micro Social Interaction: An Elaboration of Information Exchange Theory and Initial Empirical Test" Sociological Focus Vol. 40 Iss. 2 (2007)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/steven_silver1/6/