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Let us look at definitions first.

  • A role (also rôle or social role) is a set of connected behaviors, rights, obligations, beliefs, and norms as conceptualized by people in a social situation. It is an expected or free or continuously changing behaviour and may have a given individual social status or social position. It is vital to both functionalist and interactionist understandings of society.

    (From here.)

    I am looking at "role" from the perspective of sociology, so I would like to restrict this definition and consider by role the position of a person in a social structure.

  • Behavior (American English) or behaviour (Commonwealth English) is the actions and mannerisms made by individuals, organisms, systems or artificial entities in conjunction with themselves or their environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the (inanimate) physical environment. It is the computed response of the system or organism to various stimuli or inputs, whether internal or external, conscious or subconscious, overt or covert, and voluntary or involuntary.

    (From here.)

    This is a bit heavy. We will be considering only "individuals" here.


Suppose I am researching a person in a society, and I have managed, on one hand, to locate several distinct roles they occupy, and, on the other hand, a number of behaviours they are noticed to perform. I find it safe to assume that some of the behaviours discovered are "connected" to the roles — that is, there is a measure that determines how likely would another person with the same role be to perform the behaviour. Furthermore, I find it plausible to believe that, given otherwise even choice, a person will prefer a behaviour that is more strongly connected to some of the roles they occupy, so I see this "strength of connexion" as a continuum.

  • Is it fair to accept the assumptions I made above?
  • How can I measure the strength of connexion between a role and a behaviour?
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  • $\begingroup$ I reopened given the extensive edit you did, which in my opinion addresses most, if not all (now removed) comments. However, when you say "that is, there is a measure that determines how likely would another person with the same role be to perform the behaviour" aren't you by introducing that assumption answering your second question? I.e., as a likelihood (percentage) a person with a certain role would perform a given behavior (e.g., in a single day). $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Dec 17 '19 at 10:24
  • $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris Sure, if it is plausible to actually perform such a measurement. A role may be unique across the whole society (think a ruling emperor). I would rather leave this sentence out, but then someone will come by and close the question again. I am thinking about splitting this question in two parts, one to address the "what to measure" and the other "how to measure". $\endgroup$ – Ignat Insarov Dec 17 '19 at 10:50
  • $\begingroup$ In essence, your first question is "what to measure" (does what I suggest make sense?), and your second question is "how to measure" (given this definition, what would be a suitable method). I would keep it as is, for now. The first question opens up answers to discuss similar, yet different, interpretations of the relation between role and behavior. The second invites suggestions on how to set up an experiment to measure what you are after, or potentially how others have measured similar concepts. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Dec 17 '19 at 11:35

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