by Alton Barbour, Ph.D., TEP Denver, Colorado
FOR GROUP LEADERS
ACTION SOCIOMETRIC ON
To read or hear about sociometry is
one thing, but to see it in action is something entirely different.
The purpose of this exercise is to move the study of sociometry from
the purely cognitive to the experiential. If people are able to put
sociometry into action and participate in a sociometric group
experience, it begins to make more sense to them, and it is more
likely to stay with them as enduring knowledge. All of the following
criteria are grounded in the academic research on attraction.
The exercise begins with a class or
with group members all standing. You explain that you are going to
provide them with a number of criteria which are significant
determiners of who is attracted to whom and for what reasons. What
you are going to ask them to do is to make a number of choices of the
other people in the room based on these criteria.
INSTRUCTIONS: Once the criterion is
announced, they will look around the room and pick the person who
most fits that criterion, not just pick the closest person. They will
move to that person and place a hand on that person’s shoulder.
While this is in action, it is quite likely that the person they are
choosing will also be choosing someone based on the same criterion.
However, they can expect that some of the choices will be mutual
because of the “tele effect.” If no one fits the criterion, then
they should choose no one, but someone might still choose them.
Because choices can be expected to be unequally distributed, each
choice might lead to the formation of a small group, or to a chain of
choices. But their discussion should be mostly with the person they
have chosen or with the person who has chosen them. Once the choice
has been made, they will be asked to talk with that person about why
that person fits that particular criterion of attraction. With
different criteria, naturally, there will be different persons
chosen. Each discussion should last from five to ten minutes, or
until the pairs or groups seem to begin to run out of things to say
to each other.
IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT AT THE
BEGINNING FOR EVERYONE TO UNDERSTAND THAT BY CHOOSING ONE PERSON THEY
ARE NOT REJECTING OTHERS. PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE THIS BECOME IMMOBILIZED
AND UNABLE TO CHOOSE. A CHOICE IS A CHOICE AND NOT A REJECTION.
EQUALLY, IF YOU ARE NOT CHOSEN, YOU ARE NOT BEING REJECTED. IT IS
LIKELY THAT IF PERSONS WERE ALLOWED SECOND AND THIRD CHOICES, YOU
WOULD BE CHOSEN. INSTEAD, IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT PEOPLE ARE
OFTEN ATTRACTED TO OTHERS, BUT RARELY HAVE THE LICENSE OR THE
OPPORTUNITY TO TELL THEM ABOUT IT. THIS IS THAT RARE OPPORTUNITY.
AND IN THAT SENSE, EACH CHOICE IS AN INTERPERSONAL GIFT TO
THAT OTHER PERSON. Ready for the criteria? Turn the page over.