Birds of a Feather Do Flock Together

Birds of a Feather Do Flock Together

By
Michal Kosinski, Wu Youyou, Andrew Schwartz, David Stillwell
Psychological Science. January
6, 2017, Pages 1-9

Friends and spouses tend to be similar in a broad range of characteristics, such as age, educational level, race, religion, attitudes, and general intelligence. Surprisingly, little evidence has been found for similarity in personality—one of the most fundamental psychological constructs. We argue that the lack of evidence for personality similarity stems from the tendency of individuals to make personality judgments relative to a salient comparison group, rather than in absolute terms (i.e., the reference-group effect), when responding to the self-report and peer-report questionnaires commonly used in personality research. We employed two behavior-based personality measures to circumvent the reference-group effect. The results based on large samples provide evidence for personality similarity between romantic partners (n = 1,101; rs = .20–.47) and between friends (n = 46,483; rs = .12–.31). We discuss the practical and methodological implications of the findings.