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Research on Social Networks

Selected current projects

- Network contacts' socioeconomic status and individual outcomes

- Network contacts' multicultural experience and individual outcomes

- Effects of gender and alliances network on resource gains

Prior papers

Yu, S., & Shea, C. (Forthcoming). The company she seeks: How the prismatic effects of ties to high-status network contacts can reduce status for women in groups. Organization Science. Abstract: Women experience chronically inferior returns in organizations. One common recommendation is to form instrumental network ties with high-status others in groups. We integrate research on social status, social perceptions, and gender issues in social networks to suggest that, despite the theoretical and empirical appeal of this approach, instrumental ties to high-status network contacts (versus ties to lower-status network contacts) in groups may incur hidden social status costs for women in intragroup status-conferral processes. Instrumental ties to high-status network contacts may be perceived as a sign of agency of the focal person, which violates feminine gender norms. Women with these high-status network contacts in groups may therefore be perceived as less communal, thus subsequently lowering their status in the eyes of other group members compared with women with lower-status network contacts. Studies 1–4, across cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental designs, support our model. Study 5 suggests that signaling a group-oriented goal may mitigate the interpersonal, social perceptual costs of instrumental ties to high-status network contacts for women. The effect of ties with high-status network contacts for men is relatively inconsistent. This research reveals a potential social-network dilemma for women: Instrumental ties to high-status network contacts in groups and organizations are necessary for success and should be encouraged, yet they may also create an extra social perceptual hurdle for women. Organizations need to investigate social and structural solutions that harness the benefits of high-status network contacts for women, while minimizing any potential social perceptual costs.

Yu, S. & Xie, Y. (2017). Preference effects on friendship choice: Evidence from an online field experiment. Social Science Research, 66, 201-210 Insight: Observed friendship choices are constrained by social structures and thus problematic indicators for underlying personal preferences. We tested two important forces that govern friendship choices: preference for shared group identity (operationalized as the desire to befriend others sharing the same place-of-origin identity) and preference for high status (operationalized as the desire to befriend others from high-status institutions). Using an online field experiment in one of the largest social network service websites in China, we investigated the causal preference effects of these two forces free from structural constraints.

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