Nominating under constraints: Systematic comparison of unlimited and limited peer nomination methodologies

Gommans, R., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2012)
Manuscript revised and resubmitted. Radboud University Nijmegen. 

Peer nominations are a commonly used method to assess aspects of peer relationships in groups. An important but unsettled methodological issue is whether to collect unlimited or limited nominations. Some researchers have argued that the psychometric differences between both methods are negligible, while others claim that one is superior to the other. The current study compared both methods directly in a counterbalanced design among 112 8- to 12-year-old elementary school children. Significant differences were found between both methods. Unlimited nominations outperformed limited nominations in reliability, validity, and distributional properties, especially for positive sociometric questions (e.g., friendship), peer status measures (preference and popularity), and behavioral reputation questions (e.g., leader, clown). The limited method offered better results for “bully” and “victim” questions. In some cases, the differences between both methods were moderated by age, sex, or reference group. Implications for future peer relations research and the use of peer nominations were discussed.

Parts of this paper were presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Themed Meeting on Developmental Methodology, Tampa, FL, February, 2012. For those of you who would like to view my poster, click on the link below to download it.


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