Clustering by Well-Being in Workplace Social Networks: Homophily and Social Contagion

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Abstract

Social interaction among employees is crucial at both an organizational and individual level. Demonstrating the value of recent methodological advances, 2 studies conducted in 2 workplaces and 2 countries sought to answer the following questions: (a) Do coworkers interact more with coworkers who have similar well-being? and, if yes, (b) what are the processes by which such affiliation occurs? Affiliation was assessed via 2 methodologies: a commonly used self-report measure (i.e., mutual nominations by coworkers) complemented by a behavioral measure (i.e., sociometric badges that track physical proximity and social interaction). We found that individuals who share similar levels of well-being (e.g., positive affect, life satisfaction, need satisfaction, and job satisfaction) were more likely to socialize with one another. Furthermore, time-lagged analyses suggested that clustering in need satisfaction arises from mutual attraction (homophily), whereas clustering in job satisfaction and organizational prosocial behavior results from emotional contagion. These results suggest ways in which organizations can physically and socially improve their workplace.

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