What Is a Sociogram?

Jo Amy Rollo, Yolanda Williams
  • Author
    Jo Amy Rollo

    Jo Amy has taught middle school science for 2 years. She has a Masters degree in Environmental Science and two Bachelor of Science degrees, one in Biology and one in Environmental Science. She is a Science Olympiad Coach and has experience tutoring students.

  • Instructor
    Yolanda Williams

    Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Learn about sociograms. Understand what a sociogram is through different examples. See a sociogram template, and learn the types and benefits of sociograms. Updated: 03/14/2022

What Is a Sociogram?

A visual model that displays all the personal connections within a group is the definition of a sociogram. It is a tool used to explain how people within a group interact and to evaluate the inner workings of relationships. It can be used to examine relationships within many groups, like a team, a classroom, or a group of friends or coworkers. Though sociograms can help uncover underlying groups, sociograms alone cannot indicate the role that social groups play in a larger population. For example, a sociogram on the dynamics of a classroom would not help analyze the roles that groups play in student achievement. Although the relationships between students would be documented, a sociogram would not show the achievements of each student. They can, however, be used to begin a discussion about social groups.


Sociogram example with Mike as the ego and showing his relationships to others.

Sociogram Example


Definition of Sociogram

Suppose you are a seventh grade teacher. There are ten students in your classroom: Mike, Olivia, Connor, Tracy, Lena, Darren, James, Tiona, Lisa, and Taylor. You notice that your male and female students have not been getting along well in recent weeks. You are interested in looking at the relationships between your students to help you understand what is going on in your classroom. One method that can help you examine relationships is creating a sociogram.

A sociogram is a visual depiction of the relationships among a specific group. The purpose of a sociogram is to uncover the underlying relationships between people. A sociogram can be used to increase your understanding of group behaviors.

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  • 0:00 Definition of Sociogram
  • 0:40 How Do You Create a Sociogram?
  • 1:56 Example of a Sociogram
  • 2:46 How To Use a Sociogram
  • 4:40 Lesson Summary
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Sociogram Examples

Before a sociogram can be created, one must decide what criterion is to be measured. Positive criteria ask questions about what an individual would like to do or what they enjoy. Negative criteria ask questions about things that one would not enjoy or find pleasing.

An example of a sociogram could be that the administration at an elementary school decides to assess the relationships between their teachers. "Which three coworkers do you admire the least?" is a negative criterion, while "Which six people would you most enjoy going on a field trip with?" is a positive criterion.

Sociograms can be used to:

  • Chart relationships within a group: The main goal of a sociogram is to chart relationships within a group. It can focus on different characteristics belonging to a particular person and follow that person's interaction with other members of the group.
  • Understand social dynamics: Sociograms can highlight important social dynamics by studying the group to better understand how it functions.
  • Alert researchers to problematic relationships: Conflicts between members of a group can be uncovered when analyzed in a sociogram. Sometimes they go unnoticed and are only uncovered when analyzed using this tool.

Types of Sociograms

Different types of sociograms focus on and measure different things. An egocentric sociogram focuses on one special case. Network sociograms focus on how a group of cases relates to each other.

Egocentric Sociograms

Egocentric sociograms focus on the connections surrounding a specific case, which is called the ego. It is made up of vertices, which represent cases; and edges, which represent relationships. A star shape identifies the ego. This type of sociogram gives insight into how a person interacts with others and describes their perceptions of others. An example of an egocentric sociogram would include Barbara as the star and link each personal relationship, like family, friends, and coworkers to her.

Network Sociograms

Network sociograms look at an entire group and the relationships within that group. The goal of this type of sociogram is to identify relationships within a group. Network sociograms do not focus on a single person. An example of a network sociogram would be a Facebook post with many comments. The comments would be the relationships that are analyzed.

How Do You Create a Sociogram?

Before you begin to create a sociogram of the students in your classroom, you must first come up with a criterion, which is what you want to measure. The criterion that you use is usually some question about a specific type of social interaction. A criterion can be either positive or negative.

Positive criterions are those that ask the students to choose something that they either enjoy or would like to participate in with others. Negative criterions ask students to choose something that they would not enjoy. Negative criterions are used to discover resistance or rejection in interpersonal relationships.

Examples of positive criterions that can be used to create a sociogram are:

  • Which three classmates would you most like to go on a vacation with?
  • Which three classmates are your best friends?
  • Which three classmates do you like the most?

Examples of negative criterions that can be used to create a sociogram are:

  • Which three classmates would you least enjoy going on a vacation with?
  • Which three classmates do you like to be around the least?
  • Which three classmates would you least like to be stranded on an island with?

Once your students have all answered the question, you tabulate the results and use them to create a sociogram.

Example of a Sociogram

Suppose you decided to ask your students to choose the three classmates that are their best friends.

This list shows your results:

This list contains the three best friends that each person chose.
Class selections for three best friends

Suppose you also asked your students which three classmates they would less like to go on a vacation with. This list shows your results:

This list contains the three people that each person would least like to go on a vacation with.
Class selections for three you would least like to go on vacation with.

You create two sociograms based on this information, one for the positive criterion and one for the negative criterion. You notice that all of the students picked either Mike or Olivia as one of their closest friends, so you decide to put Mike and Olivia at the center of your sociogram.

This sociogram was created using the positive criterion.
Positive sociogram

This sociogram was created using the negative criterion.
Negative criterion sociogram

How to Use a Sociogram

You find it interesting that all of the females have chosen Mike based off a negative criterion and all of the males chose Olivia based off a negative criterion, especially since Olivia and Mike appear to be leaders among their same-sex peers. You decide to have a meeting with Mike and Olivia. You find out that Mike and Olivia used to date, but Mike dumped Olivia for a girl at another school. This caused animosity between the pair.

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Video Transcript

Definition of Sociogram

Suppose you are a seventh grade teacher. There are ten students in your classroom: Mike, Olivia, Connor, Tracy, Lena, Darren, James, Tiona, Lisa, and Taylor. You notice that your male and female students have not been getting along well in recent weeks. You are interested in looking at the relationships between your students to help you understand what is going on in your classroom. One method that can help you examine relationships is creating a sociogram.

A sociogram is a visual depiction of the relationships among a specific group. The purpose of a sociogram is to uncover the underlying relationships between people. A sociogram can be used to increase your understanding of group behaviors.

How Do You Create a Sociogram?

Before you begin to create a sociogram of the students in your classroom, you must first come up with a criterion, which is what you want to measure. The criterion that you use is usually some question about a specific type of social interaction. A criterion can be either positive or negative.

Positive criterions are those that ask the students to choose something that they either enjoy or would like to participate in with others. Negative criterions ask students to choose something that they would not enjoy. Negative criterions are used to discover resistance or rejection in interpersonal relationships.

Examples of positive criterions that can be used to create a sociogram are:

  • Which three classmates would you most like to go on a vacation with?
  • Which three classmates are your best friends?
  • Which three classmates do you like the most?

Examples of negative criterions that can be used to create a sociogram are:

  • Which three classmates would you least enjoy going on a vacation with?
  • Which three classmates do you like to be around the least?
  • Which three classmates would you least like to be stranded on an island with?

Once your students have all answered the question, you tabulate the results and use them to create a sociogram.

Example of a Sociogram

Suppose you decided to ask your students to choose the three classmates that are their best friends.

This list shows your results:

This list contains the three best friends that each person chose.
Class selections for three best friends

Suppose you also asked your students which three classmates they would less like to go on a vacation with. This list shows your results:

This list contains the three people that each person would least like to go on a vacation with.
Class selections for three you would least like to go on vacation with.

You create two sociograms based on this information, one for the positive criterion and one for the negative criterion. You notice that all of the students picked either Mike or Olivia as one of their closest friends, so you decide to put Mike and Olivia at the center of your sociogram.

This sociogram was created using the positive criterion.
Positive sociogram

This sociogram was created using the negative criterion.
Negative criterion sociogram

How to Use a Sociogram

You find it interesting that all of the females have chosen Mike based off a negative criterion and all of the males chose Olivia based off a negative criterion, especially since Olivia and Mike appear to be leaders among their same-sex peers. You decide to have a meeting with Mike and Olivia. You find out that Mike and Olivia used to date, but Mike dumped Olivia for a girl at another school. This caused animosity between the pair.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do sociograms work?

A sociogram is a visual model that displays all of the personal connections within a group. It explains how people within a group interact with one another. Sociograms are used to uncover and evaluate the inner workings of relationships within teams, classrooms, or a group of friends or coworkers.

How do I create a sociogram?

There are a few important steps in creating a sociogram. Step 1 is to decide what the focus of the sociogram will be. Step 2 involves gathering important information by surveying the relevant people. Step 3 is organizing the information to show the relationships between each person and the group.

What are the uses of sociograms?

Sociograms can provide insight into the alliances, hidden agendas, social status, and patterns of communication between members of a group. It can improve teamwork, collaboration, efficiency, and productivity.

What is an example of a sociogram?

One example of a sociogram is a network sociogram that illustrates relationships in a classroom environment. A teacher may use this sociogram to uncover underlying issues within her classroom.

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