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Tip: Understanding Rank

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

When you do a search, you can sort the results bibliographically alphabetical or by “rank”. What is Rank?

Rank refers to the search engine’s “best guess” as to the relevance of the result to the search you specified. The exact method of ranking used varies a bit depending on the search. In its most basic level, when you specify a single search term, rank looks at the density of the matches for the word in the document, and how close to the beginning of the document they appear as a measure of importance to the paper’s topic. The documents with the most matches and where the term is deemed to have the most importance, have the highest “relevance” and are ranked first (presented first).

When you specify more than one term to appear anywhere in the article, the method is similar, but the search engine looks at how many of those terms appear, and how close together they appear, how close to the beginning of the document, and can even take into account the relative rarity of the search terms and their density in the retrieved file, where infrequent terms count more heavily than common terms.

To see a simple example of this, search for the words (not the phrase, so no quotes):

unconscious communications

Look at the density of matches in each document on the first page of the hits. Then go to the last page of matched documents, and observe the density of matches within the documents.

A more complex search illustrates this nicely with a single page and only 15 matches:

counter*tr* w/25 “liv* out” w/25 enact*

There are a lot of word forms and variants of the words (due to the * wildcards) above that can match, but the proximity (w/25) clause limits the potential for matching. What’s interesting here though is how easily you can see the match density decrease as you view down the short list.

The end result of selecting order by rank is that the search engine’s best “guess” as to which articles are more relevant appear higher on the list than less relevant articles.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Wink, P. (1994). The Relational Self: Theoretical Convergences in Psychoanalysis and Social Psychology: Rebecca C. Curtis (Ed.). New York: Guilford, 1991, xv + 319 pp.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 11(1):121-124.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 11(1):121-124

The Relational Self: Theoretical Convergences in Psychoanalysis and Social Psychology: Rebecca C. Curtis (Ed.). New York: Guilford, 1991, xv + 319 pp.

Review by:
Paul Wink, Ph.D.

The Relational Self, a collection of papers from a conference held at Adelphi University in 1990, represents the latest attempt at rapprochement between psychoanalysis and social/personality psychology. The core unifying theme in this new effort at integration is the relational self—a construct that has gained prominence among both analysts and psychologists since the early 1970s.

From the point of view of social psychology, the self is inherently embedded in a relational matrix of people, the physical environment, and a broader sociohistorical context. The significance of the shift in the 1960s and 1970s from the stimulus-organism-response (S-O-R) model of behavior to the self is that the self, unlike the organism, is its own center of agency and hence an equal partner with the environment in explaining human behavior.

The dialectical relation between the self and environment is well illustrated by four essays in The Relational Self devoted to current perspectives from social psychology. The persuasiveness of a message (Lippa, chap. 3) and the amount of effort we choose to exert in group activities (Szymanski, chap. 4) are differentially related to the activation of a private or public self. Whether we choose as our reference point an inner or outer audience matters for subsequent behavior. As Deaux (chap. 5) explores the impact of marginality or minority status on identity structure, Hormuth (chap. 6) uses a socioecological framework to study the relationship between the self and objects in the physical environment during times of transition.

Several other essays included in The Relational Self provide the reader with a glimpse of the richness and vitality in current research on the self.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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