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Structural Balance Property: Relationships between students in Mainland China and Taiwan

This paper looks at the structural balance property discussed in lecture and its application to positive and negative relationships between mainland China and Taiwan. To do this, students from a university in mainland China and a university in Taiwan were invited to participate in a questionnaire. This questionnaire looked to determine relationships between individuals based upon political affiliation, group membership, and ethnicity. The questionnaire involved allocating points to certain individuals to increase their chances of getting an award or winning a lottery. The study also looked at how relationships may change between individuals based upon given information or changes to existing relationships between other individuals. Through this study, some revelations were made regarding relationships between students of the two different regions.

From the results of this study it was discovered that group membership did not really matter significantly amongst individuals in terms of their relationships. It did however show that individuals were more likely to have a negative relationship with those who did not share their political ideologies. Also, amongst the 16 scenarios tested for changes in relationships, there were many in which the creation of a third relationship between two individuals from a dyadic network resulted in a change in the status of a relationship in regards to it being positive, negative, or neutral.

Much of what this paper looks at relates back to what we have learned in class in regards to the Structural Balance Property. This paper addresses the stability of certain networks and why networks seem to change as new relationships form. The hypotheses tested and the conclusions made based upon relations between students from mainland China and students from Taiwan was very interesting and it was neat to see how knowing information regarding nationality or political ideology affected relationships. It was also very interesting how the formation of relationships between two individuals in a dyadic network with specific ideologies had a large impact on the initial relationships to another individual, changing from positive to negative or neutral.



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