The Dynamic Network Lab, TC, Columbia University, and partnering researchers have launched the COVID-19 Safety Calculator to help people quickly assess their current preparedness and give personalized feedback to help change needed behaviors to possibly reduce COVID-19 risk. Results from this anonymous survey with national and international reach will also be analyzed for research purposes and may be used to inform future emergency prevention guidelines to help fight COVID-19. This calculator survey is grounded in both behavioral reasoning theory and dynamic network theory along with other important scales based in psychological and behavioral science in aims to understand important decision making, network, and behavioral factors underlying COVID-19 prevention.
Government officials can click here to learn more.
Our Lab's other Network Goal Surveys, previously referred to as Dynamic Network Surveys, uniquely assess how social networks are impacting important goals and behaviors in participants’ lives, work, or specific goal pursuits that are important to them. Our survey scales are based on Dynamic Network Theory, such as goal striving, system supporting, goal preventing, and system negating, grounded in scientific research. The specific network goal survey and case study survey can also be applied to team and group missions and objectives. Click below to visit.
This survey examines the participant’s goal of “getting their important things done” and then the pre-determined categories below (or more granular as needed) are provided to keep the survey relatively short and relevant. Participants would only use the general categories below that are relevant in their lives and no last names are collected in the survey. Framing the survey in the above manner allows it to generalize across the numerous activities (and goals) we are engaged in during our daily life pursuits. It's a novel way to abstract up to a higher level, yet grounded in concrete measures and visualizations. In DNT, it uses the "entity abstraction" process (Westaby, 2012), which is a common practice people use to describe their complex systems.
Entities Currently Used in the Life Network Survey
Why Theory Matters
Dynamic network theory shows how the entities above, for example, are perceived to impact each other in relation to the general goal of getting important things done. Thus, it's a unique way to show how our critical entity categories are connected in our most important activities. Dynamic network theory explains how this all happens with the data collected.
How Long Does It Take?
This is a relatively shorter survey, since a shorter list of pre-determined entity categories are used, based on common entities used in daily life. It usually can be done in about 30-45 minutes, although we also encourage participants to take breaks as needed.
This survey examines an employee's common goal of “getting their important things done at work”. The pre-determined categories below are provided to keep the survey relatively short and relevant. Participants would only use the general categories below that are very common at work. No last names are collected in the survey. Framing the survey in the above manner allows it to generalize across the numerous activities (and goals) employees are engaged in at work. It's also a novel way to abstract up to the highest level, yet grounded in concrete measures and visualizations.
Entities Currently Used in the Work Network Survey
Why Theory Matters
Dynamic network theory shows how the entities above, for example, are perceived to impact each other in relation to the general goal of getting important things done at work. Thus, it's a unique way to show how our critical entity categories are connected in our most important work activities. Dynamic network theory explains how this all happens with the data collected.
How Long Does It Take?
This is a relatively shorter survey, since a short list of pre-determined categories are used, based on common categories used in life. It usually can be done in less than 30 minutes, although we also encourage participants to take breaks as needed.
This survey can assess any goal or behavior a participant is interested in pursuing. Example goals people have studied in the past: doing a project, getting a job, losing weight, quitting tobacco, exercising more, etc. Hence, some users like this survey because it lets them input their own goal and entity names, although users are asked not to use last names in surveys in order to maintain privacy and confidentiality of participants and their networks.
This survey is also helpful when people want to achieve an important goal and want to intervene in their system to create change. For example, in the Social Networks and Performance course that partners with the Dynamic Network Lab, participants do this survey at the beginning of the semester, create a network goal intervention to help achieve their goal, and do another survey at the end of the semester to see how well they have done. Anecdotally, we have seen many people achieve amazing goals in their lives through our process.
Preparing for the survey
If you are interested and are eligible to participate in our university-approved study (IRB Approved Protocol Number: 18-144), we encourage you to think carefully about the important goal you decide to examine. You should also consider the people involved with it, before starting the survey, including people that may have positive or negative influences. See helpful tips below before starting the survey. Participants can complete the survey on a computer or smartphone.
Which goal or behavior should I examine?
It can be anything that is meaningful or important to you. It can be broad or specific. At a broad level, it could represent "Getting things done". Or at a specific level, it could represent "Doing X", "Getting X", "Pursuing X", etc. Some popular examples: Getting a job, finishing my project, losing weight, starting a business, eating healthy, getting into a university, finding the right person, exercising more, taking a class, getting a promotion (or pay raise), stopping discrimination (or racism, sexism, ageism, etc.), getting involved in my community, buying X, taking care of my kids, making x, reducing a major conflict, making more money, reducing (or quitting) drinking or drugs, reducing high stress, volunteering more, etc. Additionally, leaders could examine much larger organizational or societal goals that they are trying to advance in their systems. Feel free to focus on what serves you best and is very important in your life or others' lives.
Who is specifically in my network?
You will be listing important people involved with your goal, both those generating positive and/or negative influences. Although you could use first names, initials, or even secret names in the survey, we recommend that participants try to use broader category names that they normally use to describe those involved in their goal pursuits. This can also help keep the network goal survey shorter (often under 40 min), since the survey gets longer as you add more individual entities to the assessment. The survey gets longer in bigger systems because we need to assess all combinations of linkages to properly assess the full network system, grounded in scientific network analysis. It is perfectly fine to have a long and properly detailed entity list, but be prepared to take more breaks filling out the survey, so you are not fatigued and get quality data.
Example categories: The following categories commonly appear in our assessment and you can use them, if they make sense to your goal pursuit: You, significant other, friends, family, coworkers (and others you would insert that play a unique role beyond these). The following examples are also common for understanding many work goals: You, coworkers, management, family, friends (and others you would insert that play a unique role beyond these). Again, if the above examples don't make the best sense for your goal, you will be free to use your own terms with this version of the survey. Please take time, perhaps over a couple of days, to refine your list before starting, to ensure it's stable and not needing more changes.
How long does this survey take?
This survey can be short or long, depending on how many people you list in the survey. This can dramatically range from several minutes, in the case of just a few entities to well over an hour if dozens of entities are assessed. Participants can also enter up to 30 entities, although the time it takes to complete the survey with this many entities increases even further. However, this can be justified in important cases and would often require simply taking more frequent breaks to complete the system assessment.
Why Theory Matters
Dynamic network theory shows how the entities you indicated are perceived to impact each other in relation to your selected goal. Thus, it's a unique way to show how our critical entities are impactful on our goals. Dynamic network theory explains how this all happens with the data collected in the specific cases.
Copyright James D. Westaby (C). All rights reserved.
The case study survey allows researchers or interested analysts to examine how a complex network is involved in an important goal or behavioral case, typically of major import. Computer generated results allow researchers to dynamically visualize the network results online. This can help promote insight into key motivational and behavioral dynamics involved in the given case.
These case studies can focus on an individual, group, organization, or society that is having major impact on others. We typically recommend focusing the survey on the main Focal Entity and its most critical goal (or behavior) that is impacting the larger system to keep the analysis nicely focused. This is a useful ego-centric analysis that keeps nice boundaries. By focusing on the Focal Entity and its goal, researchers can see how others in the network are supporting or resisting this entity in many ways.
Although researchers could also examine the multiple goals of different Focal Entities in a system (such as doing a separate survey for each entity on all sub-goals and presumed superordinate goals), we encourage analysts to find one of the most important goals being pursued in the system that is having a large positive or negative effect on others. A practical way to do this is for researchers to make sure that they select a goal that most others (or experts) would recognize as being critically impactful. In this way, the results should relate to audiences that are seriously interested in the results of the case study examination.
The following examples illustrate various cases that could be examined with our case survey tool. The Focal Entity and the focal goal are shown.
Societally Impactful Examples
Other General Examples (Analysts would fill in X and Y as relevant to their cases)
Such analyses could examine cases that are presumed to have positive outcomes (e.g., those that have inspired others) or negative outcomes (e.g., those involving unethical or illegal actions that harms others).
More General Goals
Our surveys can also be focused on broader group or organizational goals in a non-ego-centric manner. This provides a different analytical lens, but important for some case studies, such as examining how various entities are pursing and supporting a team's goal of interest.
How Long Does This Survey Take?
Like the specific goal survey, the case survey can be short or long, depending on how many entities are listed in the case. The time can dramatically range from just several minutes, in the case of only a few entities to well over an hour if dozens of entities are assessed. Participants can enter up to 30 entities, although the time it takes to complete the survey with this many entities increases even further. This is often justified in important cases and typically requires taking more frequent breaks to complete the system assessment. This mitigates error in assessment.
Copyright James D. Westaby (C). All rights reserved.
Individuals who are enrolled in the following courses, workshops, or activities in the Columbia University Community (and potentially beyond) can participate in the available network goal surveys for private use only. Some of the courses are variable credit.
Space restrictions may apply.
Our surveys are scientifically designed for people that are serious about taking the time needed to assess network dynamics properly. The bigger the system, the more time it will take to assess, which we strongly believe is fitting in such systems. This is because our visualizations and analyses can help break down the complexity to understand important motivational elements in these full systems. Otherwise, less comprehensive survey approaches, such as measuring just one or two network linkages variables, could under-estimate or miss what is really happening in the system and thus limit the ability to create effective change. Some of our surveys are shorter than others. For example, the life network and work network surveys often use a smaller set of common pre-determined entity categories, which is helpful to make meaningful comparisons across participants.
Scientifically, our predictor variables from dynamic network theory can be examined for validity on performance scales within and between systems (e.g., using regression and multi-level analyses). Performance scales are embedded within each survey. Hence, our network approach is quite unique in its capacity to use theoretical variable to not only describe relations in dynamic network systems, but also predict emergent outcomes, such as performance, achievement, climates, and/or system well-being.
Group and team dynamics can also be assessed through our network goal surveys, given that most teams, for example, have goals and missions. There are different ways we can collect data and examine such dynamics:
When multiple groups or teams are assessed, there are ways to analyze them separately and as part of the entire given organization, thereby taking a multi-level perspective, but grounded in the dynamic network theory perspective around goals.
This research typically occurs with professional collaborators that are approved by our lab to engage in this research and abide by APA guidelines for ethical treatment of participants in the research. This work can also occur when group processes are being examined in the pertinent courses or workshops approved by the Dynamic Network Lab.