What Is Social Network in Psychology?


Jane Flores

Social Network in Psychology

Social network analysis is a valuable tool used in the field of psychology to understand and analyze the relationships between individuals, groups, and communities. By examining the connections and interactions within a social network, psychologists can gain insights into various aspects of human behavior, including social influence, communication patterns, and even mental health.

What is a Social Network?

A social network refers to a group of individuals or entities that are connected through various types of relationships. These relationships can be personal or professional and may include friendships, family ties, work collaborations, or online connections. In psychology, social networks are often visualized as graphs or diagrams that represent the relationships between people or groups.

Key Concepts in Social Network Analysis

Before delving deeper into the applications of social network analysis in psychology, it is essential to understand some key concepts:

  • Nodes: In social network analysis terminology, nodes refer to individual entities within a network. These entities can be people, organizations, or any other unit of analysis.
  • Edges: Edges represent the connections between nodes in a social network. They can be directional (one-way) or bidirectional (two-way) depending on the nature of the relationship.
  • Degree Centrality: Degree centrality measures the number of connections an individual node has within a network.

    It helps identify influential individuals who have numerous ties with others.

  • Closeness Centrality: Closeness centrality measures how close an individual node is to all other nodes in terms of shortest path lengths. It indicates how quickly information can spread through a network.
  • Betweenness Centrality: Betweenness centrality quantifies the extent to which an individual node lies on the shortest paths between other nodes. It identifies individuals who serve as bridges or connectors in a network.

Applications of Social Network Analysis in Psychology

Social network analysis has a wide range of applications within the field of psychology. Here are some of the key areas where it is used:

1. Social Influence:

By analyzing social networks, psychologists can gain insights into how individuals influence each other’s behavior, attitudes, and beliefs. They can examine how information or ideas spread through a network and identify influential individuals who shape group dynamics.

2. Communication Patterns:

Studying social networks allows researchers to understand communication patterns within groups or communities.

They can analyze who communicates with whom, the frequency of interactions, and the flow of information. This information is crucial for understanding how effective communication networks are established and maintained.

3. Community Formation:

Social network analysis helps in identifying communities within larger networks. By examining patterns of connections, psychologists can uncover subgroups or cliques that form based on shared interests, values, or demographic characteristics.

4. Mental Health:

Social network analysis has proven valuable in studying mental health conditions such as depression and addiction. Researchers can examine social support networks and identify individuals who play important roles in providing emotional support or influencing behavior.


Social network analysis provides a powerful framework for understanding human relationships and behavior within various contexts. By visualizing social networks and analyzing their properties using metrics such as centrality, psychologists can gain valuable insights into social influence, communication patterns, community formation, and mental health aspects.

Note: Remember that this article only scratches the surface of social network analysis in psychology. Further exploration and research in this field can uncover even more fascinating applications and insights.