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Beyond Dyadic Interdependence: Actor-oriented Models For Co-evolving Social Networks And Individual Behaviors

William J. Burk, Christian E.G. Steglich, Tom A.B. Snijders

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Actor-oriented models are described as a longitudinal strategy for examining the co-evolution of social networks and individual behaviors. We argue that these models provide advantages over conventional approaches due to their ability to account for inherent dependencies between individuals embedded in a social network (i.e., reciprocity, transitivity) and model interdependencies between network and behavioral dynamics. We provide a brief explanation of actor-oriented processes, followed by a description of parameter estimates, model specification, and selection procedures used by the Simulation Investigation for Empirical Network Analyses (SIENA) software program (Snijders, Steglich, Schweinberger, & Huisman, 2006). To illustrate the applicability of these models, we provide an empirical example investigating the co-evolution of friendship networks and delinquent behaviors in a longitudinal sample of Swedish adolescents with the goal of simultaneously assessing selection and influence processes. Findings suggest both processes play a substantive role in the observed dynamics of delinquent behaviors, with influence having a relatively stronger role than selection (especially in reciprocated friendships).