Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Sociometry—What to Teach

Originally posted on May 8, 2018

Sociometry is the measurement of degrees of attraction or its opposite—un-attraction?—among people. It is part of the complex of creations of Jacob L. Moreno, a born-Viennese physician who immigrated to the United States and developed psychodrama. (This is one of my interests!) Sociometry was one of this genius’ major creations, but it has been largely subsumed under his other creation, psychodrama. However, I think sociometry really merits being taught in middle school. It would have saved me a LOT of aggravation, trying to be liked by people with whom I had “negative tele”—that is, we just clashed, they wouldn’t and probably couldn’t like me. Here are some principles:

1. Some folks you click with, some folks you just don’t click with, and some folks you have a natural antipathy with. Corollary: It’s best not to try to be friendly with the last group. Correct, polite, but not friendly. Any effort to be friendly will be taken wrongly.

2. It’s good to know a method for diagnosing your interpersonal network. Sociometry is the basis for such a diagnosis.

3. It’s tricky because you have to be honest with yourself; and it’s difficult also because we are saturated in illusion. But it’s best in the long range. It’ll save you lots of grief. Sociometry offers you tools to assess your social position.

4. People don’t like the truth. But then again, people didn’t like the truths embedded in studies of prejudice, or sexuality, etc. However, it’s one thing to decry something from a higher moral plane and another thing to deny it exists.

5. For all our trumpeting about how things ought to be, let us not deny the way things are, and very probably remain so for the foreseeable future: Some folks don’t like each other! Other folks like each other. Some folks who shouldn’t like each other do! (That’s what Romeo and Juliet —or West Side Story—are about!) We should not blind ourselves to what is by remaining stubbornly fixated on what “should” be.

6. It’s therefore good to know what’s what. This is very deep, because folks might like each other for one or two things but not for a third or a fourth. In-between grades happen all the time!

What other principles of sociometry should be taught in middle school?


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