- In general, sociometry is a method to visualize social information spatially by creating living infographics with the participants' bodies.
- The concrete aim depends on where in the programme you use the method. It might facilitate getting-to-know each other (in example mixing a group and giving always different clusters of people food for conversation). It might support differentiated reflection and assessment (by addressing more serious questions) and supporting participants to express in a cooperative and non-verbal way. It might also work for decision-making by asking participants to find a position to different options or opinions.
How it works
Referring to the example on the picture: Facilitators draw a line on the floor and ask participants to position themselves to a question. A simple question could be: "I can apply the learned in my future practice." The origin represents: "not at all", the end of the arrow "yes, absolutely".
Or participants stand in a circle. A participant or a facilitator might offer a statement. The other participants find a position to this statement.
The centre of the circle might be: I totally agree. Who remains there, says, that he or she agrees totally. Who goes outside of the circle says, that he or she is less convinced from the statement.
Possible coordinate systems
Sociometry works also with other figures, like lines, or maps. In example, ask the participants to build a map with their home cities. Or that they order the group according to the feet size.
- Concentric circles (in example distancing themselves or agreeing with a statement... )
- Polarisation between plus and minus (in example for assessment)
- Scale from zero toward higher numbers (shoe size, age, distance, level of public involvement...)
- Antagonists - items in opposition to each other (with a double-sided arrow between them): "I'd like to read more" vs "I'd like to experience more action"
- Coordinate system with x- and y-achses (in example x: "I learned..." and y: "I feel...")
- Clusters. In example around different topic to choose - which topic do you find most important? Partocipants choose among competing statements the one they identify most with. Features which participants share with others - I have most experience with fundraising/volunteer management/management/organising...
- Maps. In example with the cities where the participants are living, places they would like to visit...
The results are, depending on the smartness of the questions, self-explanable. In order to understand them better, invite people to (voluntarily) explain their position.
In order to achieve more representation during explanations, encourage persons speaking for different locations in your map/coordinate system: from centre and periphery, people representing plus and minus, high and low values...
Sociometry is a good method for evaluation or for getting to know for each other. Getting-to-know-each other: Play with categories and bring people together which usually are not connected. Evaluation: A group can get a quick overview over their feelings or assessments.