Hypothetical Criteria: a brief review
You have been asked to expand on the use of hypothetical criteria
for sociometric explorations. Describe scenarios when
hypothetical criteria are particularly beneficial to groups.
A hypothetical criterion on a survey is a question which describes a
situation, setting or activity which is outside the everyday reality of
the respondents, one which has little likelihood of actual
engagement. The question calls for the participants to imagine a
situation outside the usual role repertoire of the group and to make
choices based on possible responses. The purpose of using a
hypothetical criterion is to have the group members warm up to roles
they have outside of the usual role relationships and to explore their
imaginative or fantasy sociometry. It can lead to an exploration of
wished for relationships, and the need for surplus reality explorations.
Example 1: A group member has explored an abandonment theme and the
director has had the protagonist identify persons from their life
who could come into the scene and take the role of responsible and
loving parents. Following the sharing you notice there are a
number of people still warmed up to this issue. A question can be
posed to the group: Imagine you are feeling isolated and lonely. Your
own parents are busy and haven’t noticed you and what you may be
needing from them. If you could have two group members be your
parents for ten minutes and give you their undivided attention, whom
would you choose? The sociometric choices made can then be used
for an accommodation exercise.
Example 2: Think of one of your favorite leisure time activities which
involves having others join you. Whom in the group do you choose
to join you in this activity? List in order of preference.
This is an example of a role cluster (leisure activity)
exploration. Some time in the future there may actually be an
opportunity for people to be engaged in a leisure activity together;
however, it is not part of their regular role repertoire. This
exploration can give the leader and the group a picture of an
underlying sociometric structure of an informal network involving
social roles. It also gives an indication of the range of choices
over the group from highly chosen to not chosen on the criterion.
Example 3: The village you live in has been bombed. Adults have
been asked to work in teams of four to provide security watches for
three-hour rotations at night. Choose the other three people from the
group with whom you most want to share the night watch rotation.
This hypothetical criterion uses a scenario which could be investigated
via sociodrama. The roles involved in providing security can open
the discussion of the protector role and sharing the role of protector
with others. It also focuses the group members on working as part of a
team and accesses their “best guess” of whom they want to team up with
to share a major responsibility.
Ann E. Hale, M.A. TEP April 14, 2006