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The Balance Theory of Sentiment Relations

Craig M. Rawlings1
Department of Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara
Noah E. Friedkin
Department of Sociology, and
Center for Control, Dynamical Systems and Computation, College of Engineering,
University of California, Santa Barbara

Manuscript Under Review Please do not cite or quote without permission.

Key words: Balance Theory; Social Networks; Social Psychology; Structure; Group Dynamics

[10,446 Words]

Corresponding author. Contact: Sociology Dept., SSMS 3005, University of California, Santa
Barbara, CA 93106;; (805) 895-2892

The Balance Theory of Sentiment Relations

The sentiment relation exists in all human interactions as a signed cognitive orientation of one
individual toward another, and it exists in all groups of acquainted individuals as a network of
signed cognitive orientations among the groups members. Balance theory attends to network
structures of sentiments and posits that these structures alter over time in response to individuals
efforts to locate themselves in social positions that are tension free. In small social groups, where
all individuals have a positive or negative orientation toward every other member of the group,
these efforts are constrained to sign changes of orientation. Balance theory presents the
surprising claim that negative sentiments may be tension free. The theory is structural in its
treatment of tension as a property of the configuration of sentiments, and is supported by a body
of empirical findings. However, the findings do not include supports for the theorys postulate
that changes of sentiment are triggered by the interpersonal tensions of particular configurations
of sentiment relations. This paper advances balance theory with a unique set of findings obtained
with longitudinal data on sentiment structures and measures of interpersonal tensions.

Research on social structures includes a classic and enduring line of work on how structures of
positive and negative interpersonal sentiments develop and shift over time among individuals.
Interpersonal sentiments are an important special case of attitudes that are positive or negative
cognitive orientations of some strength toward particular objects. Studies in cognitive science
suggest that individuals have an automatic positive or negative evaluative response to all
perceived objects, including other individuals. Kahneman (2003: 701) remarks that
The evidence, both behavioral (Bargh, 1997; Zojonc, 1998) and neurophysiological (see,
e.g., LeDoux, 2000), is consistent with the idea that the assessment of whether objects are
good (and should be approached) or bad (and should be avoided) is carried out quickly
and efficiently by specialized neural circuitry. Several authors have commented on the
influence of this primordial evaluative system (here included in System 1) on the
attitudes and preferences that people adopt consciously and deliberately (Epstein, 2003;
Kahneman et al. 1999; Slovic et al. 2002; Wilson, 2000; Zajonc, 1998).2
Positive interpersonal sentiments and their relational correlates (sustained contact, reciprocity,
trust, and influence) are the essential basis of small primary groups, and they form the backbone
of larger social structures (Friedkin 1998; Granovetter 1973; Homans 1950; Krackhardt 1992;
Lawler 2006; Martin 2009). Every structure of positive sentiments presents a complement
structure of non-positive interpersonal sentiments. In a small primary group with all positive
sentiments, this non-positive complement structure is absent. More generally, in small groups of
individuals who are all acquainted with one another, all individuals have a positive or negative
orientation of some strength toward every other member of the group. In larger social structures,
some non-positive complement structure is a characteristic feature of sentiment structures,
including instances where no sentiment exists among unacquainted individuals. The
simultaneous existence of social cohesion and social tension is a ubiquitous duality that has
Kahneman distinguishes two systems, 1 and 2, and locates the hard work of logic and reasoning in
System 2. A simple example of System 2 activity is a countdown by sevens from 100.

stimulated the development of sociological theory since the inception of the discipline
(Durkheim 1933[1893]; Simmel 1950[c. 1902-17], 1955[1922]). One of these lines of research is
balance theory.
Initially formulated by Heider (1946), balance theory has been an ongoing focus of
interest because it links the analysis of micro- and macro-level social structures and presents
subtle and important implications of their linkage. Its scope condition is a group of acquainted
individuals with signed sentiments toward every member. It posits a natural process of structural
transformation in which individuals responses to their local relational tensions eventuate in
macro-structures composed of one or more cliques with all positive within-clique sentiments and
asymmetric interfaces with other cliques, if other cliques are formed. Between-clique sentiments
for an ordered pair of cliques are either all positive or all negative. A balanced sentiment
structure is a network that is either a clique or a network with multiple cliques, such that all
members of a clique have aligned (structurally equivalent) sentiments on all network members.
Moreover, a balanced sentiment structure with multiple cliques must be a hierarchical status
order if a set of between-clique asymmetric positive interfaces connects all cliques. With these
and other implications, it is not surprising that sociologists have long been intrigued by this
theory and contributed to its exploration. The insights of Davis (1963, 1967, 1970) were
particularly instrumental in this development. However, the investigation of the theory has been
limited by the absence of data on the structural dynamics posited by the theory and direct
measures of the local relational tensions that the theory assumes (see Abell 1968; Opp 1984).
This article is an effort to move beyond the current limitations of the empirical literature
on balance theory. With longitudinal data, we examine changes of sentiments in small, naturallyoccurring groups. We test the proposition that individuals within such groups tend to reduce their

exposure to intransitive triadic configurations of sentiments. We directly address the motivations

for such reductions, i.e., that individuals seek to reduce and/or avoid relational tensions by
resolving intransitive configurations of sentiments. Our data are based on twenty urban
communes in the years 1974 and 1975 (Martin, Yeung, & Zablocki 2001; Zablocki 1980). These
data deal with community-oriented groups of all acquainted individuals where the proposed
structural dynamics of sentiments are likely to be pronounced. With these data, if we cannot find
evidence supportive of the theorys emphasis on tension-related structural transformations, then
the premises of the theory are called into question. Our balance theory approach to this famous
and unusual data set is the first application of balance theory to it.3 In the next four sections, we
detail balance theory, present our hypotheses, describe the data on communes and methods used
to test these hypotheses, and report our findings. Our discussion considers some extensions and
elaborations of our findings and their limitations, and outlines some directions of future work.

Heiders initial formulation of balance emphasized the micro-dynamics of individuals
perceptions of other individuals positive or negative orientations toward an object. Perceived
disagreement of orientation is a source of tension, which is reduced by changes of sentiment
toward greater alignment. When the object of orientation is a particular individual, relational
tension exists given perceived disagreements of interpersonal sentiments toward that individual.
Considering all such perceived sentiments in a social group, various adjustments of sentiments
lead, under Heiders assumptions, to the same conclusion, i.e., the sentiment structure of a group
will evolve into a structure of all positive sentiments or into a structure composed of precisely

See Bradley (1999) for a sustained investigation of these communes with respect to their varying levels
of charisma, and analyses which include a comparison of positive sentiment structures in more and less
charismatic communes.

two hostile subgroups. Extensions of Heiders approach have relaxed some of its assumptions,
and shifted its focus away from an individuals perceptions of relationships toward a structural
analysis of networks composed of sentiment relations that are either positive or negative
(Cartwright and Harary 1956; Davis 1963; Davis & Leinhardt 1972; Holland & Leinhardt 1970).
Moreover, these generalizations relax Heiders strong assumptions concerning the local
structural conditions that trigger relational tension, and each successive generalization includes
prior models as special cases. The development of the theory presents an orderly advancement of
work across generations of investigators.
The orderly development of balance theory rests on its analysis of four structural
postulates. Let +Sij indicate that individual is sentiment toward individual j is positive, and
let Sij indicate that it is negative:
(1) A friend of a friend is a friend, i.e., if +Sij and +Sjk, then +Sik;
(2) A friend of an enemy is an enemy, i.e., if Sij and +Sjk, then Sik;
(3) An enemy of a friend is an enemy, i.e., if +Sij and Sjk, then Sik;
(4) An enemy of an enemy is a friend, i.e., if Sij and Sjk, then +Sik.
Classical balance theory disallows (forbids) any violations of the above rules. Generalizations of
classical balance theory disallow a subset of these four rules and are referred as models. All these
generalizations include the first rule, which is known as transitivity. A violation of this rule
intransitivityexists when +Sij, +Sjk, and Sik. The most general model only disallows
violations of transitivity, and it is referred to as the transitivity model. 4 The transitivity model
includes all other models, based on these rules, as special cases of structural balance that do not
violate transitivity.

Johnsen (1985) presents an additional generalization for large-scale groups that relaxes the assumption
of transitivity.

Note that these rules present particular ijk triadic configurations of sentiments. All
generalizations minimally include the postulate that a triad, and the larger sentiment structure in
which it is embedded, is unbalanced if there exists three individuals i, j, and k among whom the
sequence ikj of positive sentiment relations exists, but the i j positive sentiment relation
does not. Triads that present at least one violation of transitivity are referred to as intransitive
triads with respect to their configurations of sentiment relations. The transitivity model assumes,
as do all other models, that intransitive configurations of sentiment relations in triads generate
relational tensions that the individuals involved in them are motivated to resolve.
-- Insert Figure 1 Here -Figure 1 shows the sixteen types of triads that are possible when considering all possible
ijk configurations of sentiments, seven of which present at least one instance of intransitivity.
The convention is to represent these sixteen types in a simplified form: only the configuration of
positive sentiments are displayed with the understanding that the absence of a positive sentiment
implies the presence of a negative sentiment. These triads are characterized by three numbers,
indicating the number of mutual (M), asymmetric (A), and null (N) ties, and symbols that
discriminate triads with identical MAN numbers transitive (T), up (U), down (D), and cyclic
(C) when required. Every triad must be one of these sixteen types. For a particular group with n
members, a triad census distributes the groups observed n choose 3 triadic configurations of
sentiments among these sixteen types. The number of triads that are distributed among these
sixteen types increases rapidly with the size of a group; e.g., for groups of size 5, 10, 20 and 40,
the number of triads is 10, 120, 1,140 and 9,880, respectively.
The various models of balanced sentiment structures forbid subsets of these sixteen
types and permit the remaining types (Holland & Leinhardt 1970; Johnsen 1986). The classic

and most restrictive model permits only the 300 and 102 types. The most prominent relaxation of
the stringent assumptions of this classic model forbids triads that present one or more instances
of a violation of transitivity and permits all other triads. Seven triad types violate transitivity at
least once, and a triad may have as many as three intransitive sequences of positive and nonpositive sentiments within the triad (as does the 030C triad). The remaining nine triad types are
divided into two classes: transitive and vacuously transitive triads. The distinction is based on
whether or not the configuration of relations in a triad presents at least one instance of an ikj
sequence. If there is no such sequence, then the structural condition for a violation of transitivity
does not exist and the triad is defined a vacuously transitive because it does not violate
transitivity. We will occasionally remind the reader of this important distinction. Vacuously
transitive triads are not posited to be sources of relational tensions.
What researchers consider the permitted vs. forbidden triads in a given approach is based
on largely unexplored linkages between triadic configurations of sentiments and relational
tensions. Heiders view of balance was quite restrictive on this matter, while later formulations
were more relaxed. For example, Newcombs (1968) and Holland and Leinhardts (1970) models
were based in part on a different set of assumptions regarding what should be a tension-laden
configuration. Thus, a triad of type 003 (where there are no positive sentiments) is not taken as a
tension-laden configuration in any of the generalizations of the classic balance model. In the
transitivity model, such empty triads, and vacuously transitive triads in general, are assumed to
be tension free. Negative sentiments are not, per se, treated as sources of relational tension. In
the transitivity model, where relational tensions are strictly associated with intransitivity, these
tensions may be resolved by the conversions of one or more positive sentiments into negative
sentiments, or vice versa. For example, an intransitive situation in which a friend of friend is not

a friend (+Sij, +Sjk, and Sik) may be resolved by the conversion of the negative Sik sentiment
to the positive +Sik sentiment , or by the conversion of the +Sij sentiment to the negative Sij
While the pressures for some form of cognitive consistency in sentiments toward objects
may in some respect be universal (Festinger 1957; Greenwald et al. 2002; Homans 1950; Osgood
& Tannenbaum 1955), situations that are tension-laden in one culture or institutional context
may be tension-free in another.5 The hypothesized pressures of balance theories appear to be
especially tailored to explain dynamics within groups with little functional differentiation (Davis
1963). Such groups are most likely to realize the kinds of triadic heuristics that shape transitivity,
because the absence of a positive sentiment is likely more problematic than in more complexly
differentiated groups where it is easier to discount certain sentiments relations (Martin 2009), or
to have weak ties of acquaintanceship that dont elicit the same demands in time and emotional
intensity that generate transitive pressures (Granovetter 1973).
With a few notable exceptions (Srenson & Hallinan 1976: Doreian & Krackhardt 2001),
empirical studies testing the postulates of balance theory have been cross-sectional, and the few
longitudinal studies have not connected sentiment alignments to the underlying mechanism at the
heart of the theory namely, the management of relational tensions. The lack of empirical
evidence directly linking the modification of sentiment structures to relational tensions in groups
is an important gap. With no available evidence on tensions, some investigators have proposed
that tensions are not relevant and that transitivity is largely explained by the social contexts that
give rise to clusters and inequalities in popularity, rather than by tension reduction responses
(Feld 1981; Feld & Elmore 1982). These two viewpoints are not incommensurate. Whatever the
For example, see Hage (1976) for a cultural context that appears consistent with Heiders early
formulations of balance.

conditions that set up a sentiment network, balance theory applies to an understanding of the
temporal structural trajectory of the network. In balance theory, the temporal evolution of
clusters and inequalities of positive sentiments are the epiphenomena of tension reduction
responses that alter social structure. Finally, we have found no comparative studies that examine
evolving triadic sentiment structures in multiple, relatively-bounded, naturally-occurring groups
where such assertions might be adjudicated.
Tests of the predictions of balance theory require the collection of longitudinal data on
networks of interpersonal sentiments; and such data are rare. Researchers have employed
experimental designs to probe the merits of the theory (Aderman 1969; Crano & Cooper 1973;
Fuller 1974; Press, Crockett, & Rosenkrantz 1969), and more recently have employed computer
simulations to explore possible processes that govern the evolution of sentiment structures (Anat,
Krapivsky, & Redner 2006; Hummon & Doreian 2003; Montgomery 2009; van Rijt 2011; Wang
& Thorngate 2003). The empirical evidence on groups that has been amassed to assess balance
theory presents overwhelming support for the following restricted statements: (a) if there exists
three individuals i, j, and k among whom the sequence i j k of positive sentiment relations
exists, then the existence of an i k positive relation is more likely than when the sequence i
j k of positive sentiment relations does not exist6 and (b) the probability of an intransitive triad
(one of the seven types of triads that violate transitivity) is lower than the probability of a triad is
not intransitive (one of the nine of types of triads that dont violate transitivity). See, for
example, the findings of Davis (1979), Doreian & Krackhardt (2001), Hallinan (1974) Hallinan

One indication of the relatively settled state of this finding is the implementation of transitivity as a
regular structural feature in stochastic actor-centered models of tie formation (see Snijders, van de Bunt,
& Steglich 2010).

& Hutchins (1980), and Srenson & Hallinan (1976). We believe that it is accurate to
characterize all other predictions of the theory as being in an unsettled state.

In balance theory, negative sentiments do not suffice to adduce relational tensions. Relational
tensions are triggered by particular structural configurations of sentiments. Sentiments are
directed i j cognitive orientations that can only be altered by individual i. The proximate
structural configurations that trigger relational tensions felt by individual i are the triadic
configurations of sentiments in which individual i is embedded. To the extent that an individual
is embedded in tension laden triadic configurations, the individual will be motivated to alter the
signs of his or her orientations toward specific other individuals. This is the logic that underlies
our hypotheses. Hence, after documenting the temporal reduction of intransitive triads posited by
balance theory (Hypothesis 1), we focus on individuals extents of direct exposure to
intransitivity and their felt relational tensions (Hypotheses 2-3). The general intent and unique
contribution of Hypotheses 2-3 is the grounding of balance theory postulates on individual-level
motivations to reduce the felt relational tensions associated with their exposure to intransitive
sentiment configurations of sentiments. We frame these hypotheses in terms of the transitivity
model of balance, which draws on the information provided by positive versus non-positive

Temporal Decline of Intransitive Triads

Numerous cross-sectional studies present evidence supporting the conclusion that small
group sentiment dynamics are based in part on the dictates of transitivity. Longitudinal studies of

sentiment structure have shown that transitive closure (i.e ik and kj ties of positive sentiment lead
to an ij tie of positive sentiment) is a significant factor in shaping the relational correlates of
positive sentiments, such as friendships and voluntary work relations (Dahlander & McFarland
2013; Hallinan 1974; Hallinan and Hutchins 1980; Homans 1950; Kossinets & Watts 2009;
Newcomb 1961). Balance theory goes beyond tie formation models in predicting that there is a
general shift of the sentiment structure of relatively bounded groups toward configurations of
positive sentiments that do not violate transitivity. Support for this prediction can be found in
Srenson and Hallinan (1976), which detailed changing reports of friendship among a class of 28
sixth graders. Their analysis also showed that groups do not hop from unbalanced to balanced
sentiment structures and that shifts toward greater balance involve transitions of particular ijk
triads through states of intransitivity. Doreian and Krackhardts (2001) reanalysis of Newcombs
longitudinal data on 17 members of a fraternity likewise obtained support for the structural
postulates of balance theory. However, their findings were based on rank-order measures rather
than dichotomous measures of positive sentiments, and the authors chose not to examine
changes in the triad census for this group, examining instead the likelihood of moving toward
transitivity given various pre-transitive triadic states. Consistent with balance theorys
emphasis on group-level shifts and these previous empirical findings, we hypothesize that

H1: The proportion of triadic configurations that violate transitivity declines over time
among the enduring members of group.

Note that this hypothesis does not assert that transitivity necessarily increases over time,
only that intransitivity decreases. For example, a group may resolve tension-laden configurations


of intransitive sentiment relations by shifting to 003 configurations, in which no positive

sentiments exist among three persons, and other vacuously transitive configurations, and in so
doing lower the proportion of transitive triadic configurations of positive sentiments in the group.
The configurations of sentiments among the enduring members of a group should manifest a
temporal decline of intransitivity regardless of any intransitivity generated by the loss or addition
of members. Thus, an important aspect of this hypothesis is that a decline of intransitivity in the
enduring subset of groups is insensitive to group turnover.

Dyad-Level Sentiments and Tensions in Intransitive Environments

Proposed temporal mechanisms of intransitivity reduction include processes that treat the
group (or each individual in it) as an optimizing balance-seeking strategic actor who rewires the
groups structure of positive sentiments to eliminate intransitivity (Abell & Ludwig 2007; Antal,
Krapivsky, & Redner 2005; Kulakowski, Gawronski, & Gronek 2005; Marvel et al. 2011; Wang
& Thorngate 2003; see also Macy & Willer 2002). There is currently no empirical evidence that
supports or erodes these proposals. Moreover, we can find no empirical study that involves a
direct measure of the relational tensions in naturally-occurring groups that are assumed to
motivate posited structural changes of sentiment relations. Experimental social psychologists
have investigated the extent to which certain imagined triads are perceived as tension-laden by
subjects (Aderman 1969; Crano & Cooper 1973; Fuller 1974). This evidence suggests that, when
subjects imagine being put in particular positions of various balanced and imbalanced triadic
situations, they associate conditions of intransitivity with more imagined unpleasantness than
under conditions that do not violate transitivity. Although these findings on imagined tensions


have obvious limitations, they do serve to indicate that a tension avoidance and reduction
hypothesis is intuitively plausible in applications to triadic configurations of positive sentiments.
The key premise is that individuals (not networks) seek to reduce relational tensions
when social environments present intransitivity (e.g. Hallinan & Hutchins 1980). Each i to j
sentiment relation (positive or non-positive) is contextualized by n-2 other individuals. Each of
these other individuals sets up an ijk triad with a particular configuration of sentiments, so that
the i to j sentiment is embedded in a social environment of n-2 sentiment configurations.
Controlling for the i to j sentiment (positive or non-positive), this social environment may
generate an i to j tension relation that is is tension and not js. Among acquainted individuals, a
positive i to j sentiment may be either tension-laden or tension-free; similarly, a non-positive
sentiment may also be either tension-laden or tension-free. In balance theory, this tension
variable depends on the extent to which the i to j sentiment is embedded within local (triadic)
intransitive configurations of sentiments. Thus, exposure to intransitivity is based on the subset
of n choose 3 ijk triads that contain a particular ij ordered pair. Sentiment conversion is a more
or less visceral reaction to local imbalance; sentiment conversion also may be informed by the
calculated payoffs of converting a particular sentiment relation with respect to the conversions
reduction of the individuals level of exposure to intransitivity. These two factors (visceral versus
rational conversion responses) are likely to be correlated in real world data that is, individuals
with sentiments that are embedded in a larger number of intransitive triads are likely to have
greater payoffs in reducing those intransitivities through sentiment conversions. But, in particular
instances of i to j sentiment, a visceral conversion may or may not be an optimal conversion.


Three researchable hypotheses, theoretically central to balance theory, may be formulated

at the dyad-level. We begin with the hypothesized relationship between intransitivity and
tensions, and then formulate two hypotheses on sentiment conversions:
H2a: The probability of an ij relational tension increases with the extent to which the i
to j positive or non-positive sentiment is embedded in intransitive triadic configurations
of sentiments that include the particular i to j sentiment.
H2b: The probability of an ij sentiment conversion (positive to non-positive or vice
versa) increases with the extent to which the i to j positive or non-positive sentiment is
embedded in intransitive triadic configurations of sentiments that include the particular i
to j sentiment.
H2c: The probability of an ij sentiment conversion (positive to non-positive or vice
versa) increases with the extent to which the payoff of that sentiment conversion is a
reduction in the proportion of intransitive triadic configurations of sentiments that
include the particular i and j sentiment.

Individual-Level Reductions in Exposure to Intransitivity and Relational Tensions

Our third set of hypotheses is framed at the individual-level, because the key assertion of
balance theory is that individuals gravitate toward social structural positions that are tension free
by modifying their profiles of sentiments to reduce their exposure to intransitivity. Individuals
vary in the extent to which they are exposed to a bundle of intransitive triads. Thus, exposure to
intransitivity is based on the subset of n choose 3 ijk triads that contain a particular individual
i. Individuals also vary in the extent to which their n-1 bundle of sentiments toward others in the
group are perceived as tense relations. Our hypotheses deal with temporal relationships between


these two individual-level bundles of intransitive triads and relational tensions. We use the term
total to refer to these bundles. Two researchable hypotheses, theoretically central to balance
theory, are formulated at the individual-level. Individual-level reductions of exposure to
intransitivity should be associated with prior relational tensions, and individual-level reductions
of relational tension should be associated with reductions of exposure to intransitivity.
H3a: (Temporal Reductions of Intransitivity) Individual-level change of total exposure to
intransitivity is a function of prior total levels of relational tension, such that greater
prior total levels of relational tension are associated with greater total reductions of
exposure to intransitivity.
H3b: (Temporal Reductions of Tension) Individual-level reduction of total relational
tensions is a function of reduction in individuals total exposure to intransitivity, such
that greater reductions of exposure of intransitivity are associated with greater
reductions of relational tension.


Communes and Sentiments
We test these hypotheses using the Urban Communes Data Set (UCDS) a unique,
multiwave, multimethod study of relatively small, voluntary communities in the United States,
beginning in the 1970s and continuing with additional waves over a period of several years (for
full description, see Zablocki 1980; also, Martin, Yeung, & Zablocki 2001). These data provide a
number of conceptual and methodological advantages over prior studies of balance theory. First,
the data are longitudinal so that, adjusting for individual turnover and a number of communes
that dissolved prior to the first follow up, it is possible to directly assess shifts toward or away


from balance. We make use of this temporal structure with observations at two time points (1974
and 1975). Second, these data contain measures of directed positive sentiments among commune
members that is, all commune members were explicitly asked to indicate the tenor of their
relationship with every other member, using numerous relational indicators, including whether or
not a particular relationship was loving and/or tense (with an 80% response rate for the
communes completing the questionnaire). Third, even after omitting communes that disbanded
or lost too many of their initial members to provide triadic analyses (for our purposes, we omit
any of those with fewer than 4 stable members), twenty groups remain suitable for study,
affording greater reliability than previous longitudinal studies of single groups. Finally, because
these groups explicitly formed around a collective identity and the explicit goal of fostering
community, they have the characteristics of Gemeinschaft that are likely to elicit the proposed
structural dynamics of balance (Davis 1963).
We focus on those loving and tense reported relationships that were present in both
the first and second waves of the UCDS (1974 and 1975), among those members of these groups
who responded to the network questionnaires for both waves. The analysis is based on 135
individuals distributed in twenty communes. The communes we analyze are geographically
diverse, and represent new religious movements, some with charismatic leaders, as well as nonreligious groups. We make no claims concerning the generalizability of findings from these
groups. Rather, we are particularly interested in these groups because if the proposed dynamics
of structural alignment and tensions are likely to manifest clearly in any real world situation, it is
among these surviving communes and their stable members. If they do not present support for
balance theory dynamics, and support for its relational tension assumption, then some greater
level of scrutiny of the theory is warranted. Future research may seek to move away from these


unusual settings in order to address the scope conditions of our emphasis on relational tensions
(see our discussion).

Triadic Models Hypothesis 1

To test Hypothesis 1, we obtain triad censuses for loving ties within each commune for
each year, and examine aggregated changes in triads across all communes. We examine only
strongly positive sentiments, recoding responses of sometimes loving as non-positive.7
Because we use only stable commune members between the two years, the total number of triads
within each group remains constant over the period, while the distribution of these triads across
the sixteen types may shift. A test of the hypothesis that groups reduce intransitivity is therefore
a straightforward matter of inspecting the total shift in the number of intransitive triads between
the first and second wave compared to transitive and vacuously transitive triads (recall that a
vacuously transitive triad is one that does not violate transitivity because the condition necessary
for a violation does not exist in it; i.e., a sequence ikj of positive sentiments). We compare
the observed triad censuses to a bootstrapped distribution of triad censuses. To do so, for each
year we simulate 1,000 random worlds of sentiment each of which has twenty communes of
the same size and density of ties as those we observe, but where these ties are distributed
according to an Erds-Renyi random distribution (see Newman, Strogatz, and Watts 2001).8 We

We estimated models that included the sometimes loving as a positive tie, and most significant results
became more pronounced. Because there is no clear guidance for what should be considered a positive
sentiment in terms of sometimes responses, we present the more conservative of the two sets of results.
We estimated models using random graphs that conditioned distributions of the triad censuses on the
number of mutual, asymmetric, and null dyads in each network-year. This is commonly referred to as the
U|MAN distribution and has been a theoretical baseline for comparison in other triadic approaches. This
did not change the direction or substance of our results (figures available on request). Indeed, these
findings were more pronounced when conditioning on these dyadic features, primarily because doing so
decreased the standard deviations of the triad frequencies while having little effect on their means. The
results we present are once again the more conservative of equally plausible approaches.


then compare the distribution of triads of each type in these random worlds to the number we
actually observe. One-tailed tests (using the conventional 5% cutoff for significance) are then
performed on each type of triad in order to assess whether or not in a given year this triad
appears more/less than chance as balance theory would predict, and the extent to which these
departures from random expectations increase or decrease over time.9

Dyadic Models Hypotheses 2a-2c

To test Hypotheses 2a-2c, we shift our analyses to the dyad level that is, each ij ordered
pairing of individuals within each commune. We begin by assessing whether or not an
individuals time t designation of a particular relation as tense depends on the extent to which
that relation is embedded in intransitive configurations of sentiment at time t. We then proceed to
assess the extent to which relational tensions motivate sentiment conversions in general, and
specifically conversions that result in larger reductions in intransitive triadic configurations.
Given that the average size of the twenty groups we study has between seven and eight stable
members, this creates between 41 and 48 dyads ([n n]- n) per group, and thereby produces a
dyad dataset of 860 ij observations for each of the two years in the time period.
Dependent Variables. For Hypothesis 2a, the dependent variable is a binary variable
indicating the presence/absence of an i to j tension at time t. A tension is present when a
respondent reports the relationship to be tense or sometimes tense. This is a measure of
directed tension, and each j object of tension is also a person i the dataset. For both Hypothesis
2b and 2c, we estimate three separate models: the probability of a conversion event, the

We prefer this bootstrap technique to the tau statistic (see Wasserman & Faust 1995: 594), which relies
on distributional assumptions. This statistic has long been the subject of debates concerning validity (see
Hallinan 1974: 31-6), and was developed prior to advances in computational power that allow for relative
ease in simulating conditional distributions of ties in random networks.

probability of a positive to non-positive conversion event, and the probability of a non-positive

to positive conversion event. The latter two conversion models are estimated on the subset of
dyads in which positive sentiment relations either existed or did not exist, respectively, in the
previous year.
Independent Variables. For Hypothesis 2a, the hypothesized predictor is the ij exposure
to intransitivity based on the subset of n choose 3 ijk triads that contain a particular ij ordered
pair. It is the number of the n-2 configurations in this subset at time t that are intransitive with
respect to i (either +Sij, +Sjk, and Sik, or Sij, +Sjk, and +Sik).10 For Hypothesis 2b, the focal
predictor is this exposure to intransitivity measure for the first year. For Hypothesis 2c, we
construct a variable that gauges the payoff resulting from converting sentiments with respect to
projected changes in intransitivity based on the configuration of relations at time t=1. This payoff
variable is the number of the intransitive triads in which dyad ij is located that would become
transitive or vacuously transitive if i were to convert the i to j sentiment (positive to non-positive,
or vice versa). We include the total number of dyads as a group-level control in order to account
for inherent differences in the overall probability of selecting or retaining any given member as
an object of tension based on group size.11 We also include an indicator of a directed j i
positive sentiment to control for the effects of being the object of positive sentiments on the
likelihood of i tensions and sentiment conversions (especially reciprocity in positive sentiments).


We estimated models using the proportion of intransitive triads and found substantively identical
results. We also estimated models using an alternate specification of intransitivity that counted triads as
intransitive configurations without respect to a focal individual i i.e. those in which i is the object of one
or more misaligned sentiments between j and k were considered identical to those in which the
intransitivity exists within i's ego-centered sentiments. Results were largely consistent with those we
present here. We briefly discuss these and other robustness checks in our discussion.
We tested for possible non-linear effects for group size. In some models, we found a significant
curvilinear effect; but this altered neither the direction nor magnitude of predicted effects. Consequently,
we omit such effects from the final models.

Estimation. Dyadic data contain inherent interdependencies in observations, and this has
given rise to various modeling strategies suited to different research goals (e.g. Kenny, Kashy, &
Cook 2006). Because our primary concern is the possibility that such dependencies bias
downward standard errors, we follow the strategy of using multi-way clustering in order to
estimate standard errors, using the estimation procedures outlined in Cameron, Gelbach, and
Miller (2011). A variety of models are amenable to multi-way clustering and can be estimated
with available statistical software. Consequently, this approach is being employed in a growing
number of network analytic studies of dyads (Dahlander and McFarland 2013; Kleinbaum,
Stuart, and Tushman 2013; Rawlings et al. 2014). For Hypothesis 2a, we estimate a logistic
regression predicting the probability of an i to j tension ( = 1):
( =1)



) = +1 + + ,


where is a baseline logit of tension when predictors are zero, Iij is the number of intransitive
triads in which the dyad ij is located, Z is a set of controls, and is an error term that is multiway clustered for each ij dyad.
For each of Hypotheses 2b and 2c, we estimate three logistic regression models
predicting the conversion of sentiments (any conversion, positive to non-positive, and nonpositive to positive) between t=1 and t=2 as follows:
( =1)



) = + 1 1 + + ,


where is a baseline logit of an ij sentiment persistence into time t=2 when predictors are zero.
For Hypothesis 2b, Iij1 is the time t=1 number of intransitive triads in which the dyad ij is
located. For Hypothesis 2c, Iij1 gauges the projected payoff in reducing the number of intransitive
triads in which dyad ij is embedded through a sentiment conversion. Controls are contained in Z,


including the lagged time t=1 indicator of a positive sentiment of i toward j for models predicting
any conversion; and is an error term that is multi-way clustered for each ij dyad.

Individual-level Models Hypotheses 3a and 3b

Hypotheses 3a and 3b deal with changes in an individuals levels of exposure to
intransitive triads and changes in relational tensions, respectively. The unit of analysis for these
models is the individual (N=135) over the entire period.
Dependent Variables. The outcomes of interest are changes for each individual over the
period. For Hypothesis 3a, we examine changes in i's total exposure to intransitivity. We
examine the same triads at times t=1 and t=2 and then calculate a change score gauging the
difference in i's total exposure to intransitivity, such that higher scores indicate greater
reductions in intransitivity (Ij1 - Ij2).12 Here, and henceforth, all summations are over j. For
Hypothesis 3b, we examine changes in the size of each individuals bundle of tensions that is,
changes in the number of individuals with whom i has directed tensions, such that higher scores
indicate greater reductions in tensions (Tj1 - Tj2).
Independent Variables. For H3a, the key predictor of change in exposure to intransitivity
is an individuals prior exposure to relational tensions. We therefore include each individual i's
total number of ij tensions. For H3b, the key predictor of a change of relational tensions is the
change in individual is exposure to intransitivity. We therefore use the reductions in
intransitivity variable that is the dependent variable for H3a as the focal predictor in H3b.


As with the dyad-level models, we calculate exposure to intransitivity using only triads that are
intransitive from the standpoint of each focal individual. We estimated the same models using the
alternate specification of intransitivity that included any ijk triad presenting an intransitive sequence,
regardless of i's position in that sequence, and found the direction and significance of results to be

Estimation. The dependent variables are normally distributed change scores nested in
communes, and we estimate OLS regression models with standard errors clustered within the
twenty communes. Written at the level of individual i within commune c, the model for H3a
takes the form:
(1 2 ) = + 1 1 + 1 + ,


where is a baseline average i's change in the total number of intransitive triads when other
predictors are at zero, 1 is the number of directed tensions at time t=1, and Z contains controls.
The model assumption is that relational tensions are conditional independent within communes.
For H3b, the model takes the form:
(1 2 ) = + 1 (1 2 )+1 + ,


where notation is consistent with that described in equation (3).

Table 1 shows descriptive statistics for variables used in the above statistical models.
--Insert Table 1 Here--

Group-level Results
Hypothesis 1. We begin with results bearing on the general structural transformation
hypothesis of balance theory, which asserts that intransitive configurations of positive sentiments
within groups are reduced over time. Figure 3 presents results from the triad censuses for 1974
and 1975. The figure plots the observed frequencies of transitive, vacuously transitive, and
intransitive triads in a given year alongside the bootstrapped random distributions of ties in
groups of the same size and network density as those we observed. The boxes in the figure
present the median and the interquartile range of the random distributions, while the whiskers


present the 95% reference range of the distribution. The single point that is plotted in relation to
this distribution is the observed frequency for that class of triad in the twenty communes. Results
are consistent with prior cross-sectional studies of networks in showing a strong structural
disinclination for intransitivity and a tendency for transitive and vacuously transitive ties.
--Insert Figure 3 Here-A comparison of triad frequencies in 1974 to 1975 provides support for Hypothesis 1.
Keeping in mind that the total number of triads remains the same over time, there is a clear shift
away from intransitive triads. The proportion of intransitive triads decreases from 24.5% to
14.7% of the total (from 212 to 127 triads) and the departure from the random networks becomes
more pronounced (z decreases from -7.66 to -7.83). The structure of positive sentiments within
the communes becomes more balanced, even as the overall group density of positive sentiments
decreases. The average number of positive sentiments per individual deceases from 3 to 2.5. The
changing density of positive ties accounts for the different distributions in the randomly
generated networks for the two years. This also helps explain the decrease in the number of
transitive ties and the increase in vacuously transitive ties. While the structure of sentiments is
clearly shifting away from intransitive ties, it is not in absolute numbers moving toward greater
transitivity. Rather, on average, there is a greater movement away from both intransitive and
transitive ties toward more vacuously transitive triads. When compared to random networks of
the same size and density, the departure from random networks increases for transitive triads (the
z-score increases from 4.31 to 5.15). Although the observed number of vacuously transitive ties
increases considerably, the z-score actually decreases somewhat from 3.57 to 3.33. This points to
the somewhat counter-intuitive overall decrease in positive sentiments in these groups that is
associated with the structural redistribution of these ties toward greater balance.


--Insert Figure 4 Here-Figure 4 disaggregates the triad census results from Figure 3 into each of the sixteen
isomorphic types of triads. The seven triad types at the top of the graph are intransitive. Here, we
see that, despite the general disinclination for intransitivity, there are significant differences at
the triad level in terms of how much triads depart from random expectations. For example,
within the class of intransitive triads, we find one intransitive triad type (111U) that (contrary to
our prediction) occurs more frequently than predicted by chance. Triads of the 111 type have
also been found to occur more frequently than expected by other investigators (Holland &
Leinhardt 1971; Srenson & Hallinan 1976). Srenson & Hallinan (1976) attribute the anomaly
to the high probability that triads often must transition through this type of triad on their way to
greater transitivity.
However, looking across all triads, the pattern of frequencies suggests something more
than transition probabilities at work. This something more is illustrated in the differences
between types of triads that have the same transition probabilities but different observed
frequencies. While the 021D and 021U triad have the same likelihood of appearing with respect
to transition rates, one appears more likely than chance while the other appears less likely than
chance. These differences become more pronounced over the period. A similar difference can be
found between the 111U and the 111D triads, which once again share the same transition
probability, but differ markedly in terms of frequency. The third comparison between the 120D
and 120U triads shows a similar difference. We suspect that such differences have to do with a
tendency among these individuals to experience tension where there is a more unequal
distribution of positive ties, a tendency that may be specific to communal settings with an ethos
of universal love. If we measure inequality as the concentration of received loving ties (for


example, using a Herfindahl index, such that H= [Indegreei/N]2 + [Indegreej/N]2 + [Indegreek/N]


), then each of the paired triads differ with respect to this concentration with one having a

greater amount of concentration/inequality (e.g. H[111U] = .327; H[111D] = .546). In each case,
the triad type with more unequal distribution of positive sentiments occurs less frequently and
the type with more equality appears more frequently than in random distributions. The greater
frequency of these more equal triads is also inconsistent with interpretations of the prevalence of
transitive social structures as derivative of contexts that generate and promote unequal

Dyad-Level Results
Hypothesis 2a. We begin our dyad-level analyses by evaluating the cross-sectional
prediction that exposure to intransitivity is positively associated with relational tension. Table 2
shows results from logit models predicting the likelihood of relational tensions among commune
members as a function of exposures to intransitive configurations of sentiments in a given year.
Results support Hypothesis 2a. For both 1974 and 1975, the greater the number of intransitive
triads in which a sentiment relation is embedded, the greater the likelihood that i reports the
relationship with j as tense. For each additional intransitive triad in which a sentiment is
embedded in 1974, we would expect to see a 52% increase in the odds of there being a relational
tension (exp[.419]=1.52). The magnitude of the effect of intransitive triads on tensions decreases
somewhat over time.14


The difference here is also likely due to different operationalizations of positive ties. While we include
all stated ties, Feld and Elmore (1982) use a fixed small number of friendships per individual.
This may be a random fluctuation, or it may indicate that interpersonal tensions tend to become less
structural and more personal in nature as groups shift toward greater balance. Without at least an
additional data point, we are unable to infer such a trend.

--Insert Table 2 Here-Hypotheses 2b & 2c. Structural transformations of sentiment structures are motivated by
relational tensions that arise from intransitive triadic configurations. Having established the
cross-sectional association of intransitivity and tension, we evaluate whether the extent to which
a dyad is located within intransitive triads predicts the likelihood of converting the i to j
sentiment. Table 3 presents results from logistic regression models predicting conversions of
sentiments based on prior levels of intransitivity. There is support for Hypothesis 2b, which
posits that the likelihood of a sentiment conversion (both non-positive to positive and vice versa)
increases as exposure to intransitivity increases. Model 1 shows a significant effect of
intransitivity on the overall likelihood of either type of conversion. For each additional
intransitive triad contextualizing a given sentiment, we would expect to see a 40% increase in the
odds of sentiment conversion (exp[.34]=1.405). Models 2 and 3 distinguish conversions by type
and show that intransitivity is somewhat more likely to trigger non-positive to positive
sentiments conversions than vice versa. These results also indicate that interpersonal tensions
reinforce the negative sentiment relation, making conversions to positive sentiments less likely
than in equally intransitive relationships without tensions. We also find a significant effect for
reciprocity in the conversion of non-positive sentiments.
Table 4 presents results supporting Hypothesis 2c. The models predict sentiment
conversions based on the projected payoff in reductions of intransitivity resulting from a given
conversion. The model 1 results support our hypothesis that the greater the intransitivityreduction payoff of a conversion, the more probable the conversion. Results are consistent with
those in Table 3. However, comparing the magnitude of effects across these two tables shows
that the payoff specification is a stronger predictor of conversions than prior levels of


intransitivity, especially for conversions from positive to non-positive sentiments.15 For each
unit of intransitivity-reduction payoff of a particular conversion, we would expect to see an 83%
increase in the odds of converting that sentiment (exp[.603]=1.83).
--Insert Tables 3 & 4 Here-Individual-Level Results
Hypothesis 3a. Table 5 presents results from regressions at the individual level,
predicting changes in total number of intransitive triads over the period. Results support
Hypothesis 3a. Larger reductions of intransitivity are instigated by higher levels of tensions. For
each additional relational tension toward another commune member in the base year, there is a
predicted individual-level reduction of 1.62 intransitive triads over the period.
--Insert Table 5 Here-Hypothesis 3b. Table 6 shows results from models predicting changes in the total number
of an individuals relational tensions toward commune members as a function of changes in an
individuals total number of intransitive triads. Results support Hypothesis 3b. Individuals with
larger reductions in total exposures to intransitivity experienced greater reductions in the number
of relational tensions. For each unit reduction in the number of intransitive triads, there is a
predicted reduction of .085 felt tensions. In other words, for approximately every 12 fewer
intransitive triads per individual, we would expect a reduction of one relational tension over the
same period.
--Insert Table 6 Here--

We estimated models including both variables i.e. the time t=1 level of intransitivity and the projected
payoff for making a sentiment conversion. Due to the high level of correlation among these variables
(r=.8), it was not possible to partial out their unique contributions on sentiment conversions in these data,
net of other effects, and both variables were rendered non-significant.


The balance theory of sentiment relations seeks to explain the structural dynamics of sentiment
networks in groups of acquainted individuals. It presents a fascinating set of structural
propositions on how sentiment networks alter over time as each individual seeks to find or retain
a tension-free position within the network. The postulated dynamics present predictions of the
evolution of a group toward particular generic forms of macrostructure. While there has been
considerable support for the theorys emphasis on the importance of intransitivity reductions, the
key tension-reduction basis of the theory has remained largely untested, and based on inferences
in cross-sectional studies of single groups. Our findings broaden and deepen the empirical
supports for the balance-theoretic approach to sentiment change.
In addition to providing stronger confirmation of the predicted group-level structural
dynamics of balance than in previous studies, we were able to explicitly link group-level flights
from intransitivity to dyad and individual dynamics of relational tension reductions and
sentiment conversions. Our findings trace a causal sequence in which the more intransitive triads
contextualizing a given dyad the more likely the existence of a directed tension; thus, greater
intransitivity increases the likelihood of sentiment conversions, especially when the payoffs of
such conversions would produce greater reductions in levels of individual exposure to
intransitivity. Balance theory posits an intimate relationship between individual-level bundles
of total tension and total intransitivity, such that more tensions precipitate larger temporal
reductions in intransitivity, and larger temporal reductions in intransitivity produce greater
reductions in total interpersonal tensions. We do not assert that interpersonal tension is the only
factor generating such structural dynamics, or that all tensions arise from intransitive relations.


Balance theory posits an intimate relationship among these two individual-level quantities, which
should be manifested in the communes that we have studied; the absence of such a relationship
would strongly contradict balance theorys claims. Our findings offer a consistent set of
confirmations of the core postulates of balance theory at the levels of groups, dyads, and
We performed a number of robustness checks on the sensitivity of the findings to our
methodological decisions. As we have noted throughout the text, our modeling choices have
been geared toward generating conservative lower-bounds for the point estimates of
hypothesized effects. We have re-estimated models using an alternative measure of positive
sentiments, given the possibility that the reported loving ties in the context of communes were
different than other positive sentiments, or that different understandings of what love means in
different communes skewed our results (see Yeung 2005; also Swidler 2001). In this check on
robustness, instead of defining positive ties as loving ties, we defined them as the absence of
negative emotions, re-estimating models using non-hateful ties that is, positive sentiments
are inferred when individuals report that they didnt hate one another. This alternate specification
produced very similar results. We also examined overall shifts toward transitivity that allowed
for group turnover; these analyses presented altered estimates, but maintained the pattern of
hypothesis test conclusions. Finally, we re-estimated all dyad- and individual-level models using
a more relaxed measure of intransitivity that counted any ijk triad as intransitive if it presented at
least one intransitive sequence, regardless as to whether or not i had any directed positive
sentiment toward either j or k. The overall modest weakening of findings from these models
suggests that individuals are more attentive to their own proximate relations than others
relations within their triads.


Future research may choose to move beyond the scope of this somewhat unusual setting
in order to see the extent to which these findings hold, as well as to better identify results that
might be distinct to communal settings. The communes we studied show a pronounced structural
disinclination toward hierarchy in the structure of loving ties that cuts across classes of
transitivity. The observed resistance to hierarchical sentiment structures may be related to the
universal loving ethos of many of these intentional communities, which is in contrast to those
groups studied by others. For example, friendships in the context of schools would seem to be
precisely the kind of context that is likely to manifest status orders due to various popularity
tournaments (see Martin 2009: 64-7), and may therefore require some modified understanding of
the links between tensions and triads that takes into account the institutional context.
A number of our empirical findings merit further examination and, in particular, our
finding that the payoffs of particular sentiment conversions are stronger predictors than the prior
levels of intransitivity. If such a finding holds in contexts where the measure of payoffs is not as
strongly correlated with levels of intransitivity, then this would bear on arguments concerning
the automaticity vs. the deliberative cognitive underpinnings of sentiment network dynamics.
Results suggested that such deliberative processes may be especially important in the conversion
of positive sentiments to negative sentiments; while conversions of negative to positive may be
more automatic in nature. Such future refinements and additional analyses may provide
important elaborations of the scope conditions and social psychological mechanisms for social
network theory as sentiments undergird various relations that are the bases of influence (Friedkin
& Johnsen 2011) and information flows (Granovetter 1979).
We have investigated the dynamics of sentiment structures using the general definition of
structural balance as the absence of intransitivity. More restrictive definitions of balance are


special cases of this definition. They are restrictive with respect to the number of triad types that
they forbid. Having found support for this general definition, averaged across the twenty
communes, future work could proceed by looking at variation among communes with respect to
more restrictive definitions of balance. These communes differ markedly in terms of their power
and authority relations, and these differences have been linked to the different belief systems of
these groups (Bradley 1999; Martin 2001). Based on this variation between communes,
researchers may be able to determine which groups are more likely to resemble Heiders original
notion of balance perhaps due to a strongly Manichean worldview (i.e. a cult-like us vs. them
belief system) and which are more likely to resemble Davis (1967) clustered hierarchies
(perhaps due to charismatic leaders, formal ranks, and clearer status hierarchies within the
group). We would strongly expect that the types of triads that are most tension-laden will differ
according to such group-level differences in culture and authority, because such cultural contexts
impact what love is for these groups (see Yeung 2005), and consequently what the absence of
a loving tie implies in terms of balance.
Finally, we examined only surviving communes, because these allowed us to create the
longitudinal networks that are so rare in testing models of structural dynamics. However, a large
number of the roughly 60 communes in the original survey were disbanded between 1974 and
1976. Zablocki (1980) has already shown that these disbanded communes actually tended to be
more densely loving. Our approach suggests that the more consequential differences between
these disbanded groups and those that survived may have more to do with the structural features
of interpersonal sentiments in these communes than their volume of positive sentiments (see
Bradley 1999). Some of these groups may form balanced sentiment structures based on a
connected network of positive sentiments composed of ranked clusters and asymmetric


(unreciprocated) positive sentiments. The emergence of such hierarchical structures are

consistent with balance theory, but so are disconnected (clustered ) structures composed of
multiple subgroups with all positive within-group sentiments and all non-positive between-group
sentiments. In avoiding tension, some groups may fall into greater fragmentation, while others
achieve a more integrated state.


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Descriptive Statistics for Variables Used in Regression Models
Proportion Std. Dev. Min Max


Dyad-level Models: Hypotheses 2a-2c

Relational i j Tension Time t=1
Relational i j Tension Time t=2
Exposure to Intransitivity Time t=1
Exposure to Intransitivity Time t=2
Positive i j Sentiment Time t=1
Positive i j Sentiment Time t=2
Payoff of a Conversion
Sentiment Conversion
Positive to Non-Positive Sentiment Conversion
Non-Positive to Positive Sentiment Conversion
Positive j i Positive Sentiment Time t=1
N Dyads in the Commune






Individual-level Models: Hypotheses 3a-3b

Change in Total Individual Intransitivity
Change in Total Relational Tensions
Total Individual Tensions Time t=1
Total Individual Positive Sentiments Time t=1
N Dyads in the Commune







Hypothesis 2a: Logit Models Predicting the Likelihood of i j Tensions
among Commune Members by Year
Exposure to Intransitivity Time t
Positive i j Sentiment Time t
Number of Dyads in the Commune
Number of observations
Degrees of freedom
* p<0.05, ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001


Note: Standard errors are multi-way clustered for each dyad.



Hypothesis 2b: Logit Models Predicting Conversions of Sentiments
Based on Prior Levels of Intransitivity
Any Conversion

Positive to

Non-Positive to






Exposure to Intransitivity at Time t=1
Positive ij Sentiment at Time t=1
Relational ij Tension at Time t=1
Positive ji Sentiment at Time t=1
Number of Dyads in the Commune

Number of observations
Degrees of freedom
* p<0.05, ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001
Note: Standard errors are multi-way clustered for each dyad.


Hypothesis 2c: Logit Models Predicting Conversions of Sentiments
Based on the Payoffs of Reductions of Intransitivity
Payoff of a Conversion
Positive ij Sentiment at Time t=1
Relational ij Tension at Time t=1
Positive ji Sentiment at Time t=1
Number of Dyads in the Commune


Positive to NonPositive

Non-Positive to






Number of observations
Degrees of freedom
* p<0.05, ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001
Note: Standard errors are multi-way clustered for each dyad.


Hypothesis 3a: OLS Regression Models
Predicting Changes in Total Individual Intransitivity

Total Individual Tensions Time t=1
1.619** (0.426)
Total Individual Positive Sentiments Time t=1 -0.157 (0.259)
Number of Dyads in the Commune
0.026 (0.016)
-1.436 (0.953)
Number of observations
Degrees of freedom
* p<0.05, ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001
Note: Standard errors are clustered at the commune level.

Hypothesis 3b: OLS Regression Models
Predicting Changes in Total Individual Tensions
Change in Total Individual Intransitivity
0.085* (0.033)
Total Individual Positive Sentiments Time t=1 -0.009 (0.074)
Number of Dyads in the Commune
-0.007 (0.006)
0.317 (0.476)
Number of observations
Degrees of freedom
* p<0.05, ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001
Note: Standard errors are clustered at the commune level.








Vacuously Transitive










FIGURE 1. Sixteen Isomorphic Triad Types by Transitivity Class



Triad Census 1974

Triad Class


Vacuously Transitive










Triad Census 1975

Triad Class


Vacuously Transitive





FIGURE 2. Triads of Positive Sentiments Ties in 20 Communes (Observed Frequencies

and Distributions from Random Networks of the Same Size and Density)

Triad Type

Triad Census 1974








Triad Type

Triad Census 1975








FIGURE 3. Triads of Positive Sentiments in 20 Communes by Triad Type (Observed

Frequencies and Predicted Distributions)