Groups formed by individuals with similar personality traits

Neuroticism in women and conscientiousness in men were identified as personality traits predictive of the formation of friendships and success in group formation.

An international research group with Docent Michael Laakasuo as its contact person has investigated the significance of dyadic relations, or relations between pairs of individuals, in groups of friends and whether similarities in personality traits have a positive effect on the formation of these relationships.

According to the research, similarity between individuals in terms of neuroticism (in women) and conscientiousness (particularly in men) from among personality traits is predictive of group formation. The similarity of personalities also correlates with the group’s success. Similarities in the personality trait of conscientiousness are associated especially with the establishment of group performance among groups of men.

“You could say that airline pilots and hippies both enjoy spending time among their peers more than doing so in mixed groups,” Docent Laakasuo sums up the findings.

Student groups observed during the academic year

The study utilises data collected among the student associations of a European university (10 male and 15 female groups), exploring the link between several personality traits and group formation. Success on the individual level was measured by calculating the number of the symbols and emblems of the group its members adopted in their clothing and in their overall disposition. Also measured was how close a connection the people felt to their group.

The base level of the social relationships and personalities of the study subjects was established at the beginning of the academic year when no new friendships at the university had yet been established. The values were measured again after the first teaching period and after the term. The measurement included questions, among other things, on the socio-economic background, lifestyle, social life, goals and personality of the participants. The data was subjected to statistical analysis, both regression analyses and one-way analyses of variance.

Corresponding observations among chimpanzees

Prior research has shown that extroversion, compliance and openness are traits that predict the formation of friendships among young adults and adults, whereas in the case of neuroticism and conscientiousness no such connection has been identified.

In earlier research, it has been suggested that the similarity of personality traits facilitates cognitive processing by reducing the cognitive load in coordinating the group.

Studies on other social species (e.g., chimpanzees and horses) have demonstrated that individuals who have similar personality traits and who are on the same level of social hierarchy are favoured over other members of the group.

Laakasuo M, Rotkirch A, van Duijn M, Berg V, Jokela M, David - Barrett T, Miettinen A, Pearce E and Dunbar R (2020) Homophily in Personality Enhances Group Success Among Real-Life Friends. Front. Psychol. 11:710. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00710

Contact information:

Michael Laakasuo