Published on 27/07/2023

In the early 1930s, psychotherapists Jacob Moreno and Hellen Jennings set out to study people’s social choices to improve human relationships.

They developed the sociometry theory and methods as a systematic way of understanding how individuals relate in a group.

The idea behind the theory is that all human relations have an underlying central structure. Understanding this structure is essential for creating well-balanced human societies.

Let Us Define Sociometry

Sociometry, sometimes called sociometrics, is a subfield of sociology - the study of the foundations and functions of human society. It measures social relationships, as individuals possess a unique sociometric status.

Initially, Moreno defined the concept as:

"The inquiry into the evolution and organization of groups and the position of individuals within them."

sociometry definition

However, his sociometry definition has evolved with time as other social scientists contribute to the field.

Also, the dynamics of social relations change with circumstances. So the concept’s description has to change to fit specific social situations.

One of the most notable contributions to sociology’s sociometry meaning was that of American sociologist Chapin Stuart in the late 1940s.

He noted that individuals’ socioeconomic statuses influence how and who they interact with in social situations.

As a result, Chapin increased the scope of the initial sociometrics definition to include socioeconomic factors, like education level and type of occupation.

Of note, while Moreno’s explanation of sociometry focused on analyzing various characteristics that shape social groups, it did not acknowledge individuals’ economic situations.

Instead, it considered factors such as ideological differences and personal beliefs.

Chapin’s contribution, therefore, brought more elements that drive human social relations under scrutiny.

The description of the theory and methods of sociometry evolved, its application extended into various fields, often utilizing Sociogram Templates for more accurate representations. Fields include psychology, medicine, anthropology, and other settings where individuals form social groups like children's camps, the army, conferences, etc.

Sociometry Definition in Psychology

Sociometry’s definition in psychology relates to evaluating an individual’s psychosocial aspects of well-being, including their mental and emotional health.

define sociometry

This comes out clearly in Moreno’s updated version of the book Who Shall Survive? (1953)

In the book, Moreno summarized the definition of sociometry with respect to psychology, describing it as

”The mathematical study of psychological properties of populations…”

The main difference between the sociometric definition in psychology and other fields is the motivation behind the study.

Mental health experts apply sociometric techniques to identify and map out the socio-emotional relationship networks of individuals in a group. Their goal is to improve participants’ psychological well-being.

On the other hand, professionals in various fields may apply similar techniques for reasons other than improving individuals’ psychological health.

Other Applications of Sociometry

Apart from psychology, the most documented practical applications of sociometry are in the following areas:

  • Education

    Sociometry helps tutors understand students’ social behaviors. It is crucial for several reasons. Explore this page - sociograms in the classroom - to understand more about the topic.

    define sociometric
  • Business Corporations

    In business environments, sociometric explorations help reduce conflict and promote teamwork.

    Industry leaders can also use the model to improve service delivery. An example of this is Facebook. The founder uses social graphs to understand users’ social connections and improve their experience.

  • Community

    Sociometry plays a crucial role in examining different aspects of a community.

    Other than providing information about the networks of social connections in a community, it can help map out the distribution of resources.

    In this way, the methodology provides helpful insight for promoting equal distribution of resources and enhancing social cohesion.

An essential point to note is that although various fields define the concept differently, the underlying principle for its application is the same.

That’s because using sociometric techniques, like sociograms, in a setting follows a distinct procedure. It involves designing and administering a sociometric test.

What is a Sociometric Test?

A sociometric test is the backbone of the application of sociometry. It is a set of questions that help translate the theory into practice by recording participants’ responses for analysis.

Visit this page on sociometric questionnaires to learn more about sociometric tests. It uses examples to help you understand more about what is a sociometric test and what it entails

Few of our Sociogram examples available for free here

Criteria for Tests

According to Moreno, a test has to meet specific requirements to qualify as sociometric.

sociometry definition psychology

One of these criteria is considering the actual constitution of a group. Doing this acknowledges the difference between the official and the hidden behavior of individuals within a group.

It also helps create a test that all participants can take comfortably.

Another criterion is that the test must follow the adequate motivation rule. That is, warming up all group members to participate in the study willingly.

Meeting these test requirements is crucial for obtaining accurate information on a study. A surefire way of doing this is using an online tool.

The Sometics sociogram maker considers all criteria and demonstrates how to administer the test while giving room for customizing questions to specific situations. Subscribe here to try it for free.