Personality traits predict social network size in older adults

Rollings, J., Micheletta, J., Van Laar, D. and Waller, B.M. ORCID: 0000-0001-6303-7458, 2022. Personality traits predict social network size in older adults. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. ISSN 0146-1672

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Humans live in unusually large groups, where relationships are thought to be maintained through complex socio-communicative abilities. The size and quality of social networks are associated with health and well-being outcomes throughout life. However, how some individuals manage to form larger social networks is not well understood. If socio-communicative traits evolved to form and maintain relationships, personality traits should be associated with variation in network size. Here, using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), we investigate the impact of extraversion, agreeableness, and verbal communication on network size (N = 5,202) and network size change over time (N = 1,511) in later life for kin and friend networks. Higher levels of extraversion and agreeableness were associated with greater social network sizes but did not predict network size change over 14 years. The findings are discussed considering the evolutionary hypothesis that communicative and affiliative traits may have evolved to support the maintenance of social networks.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Creators: Rollings, J., Micheletta, J., Van Laar, D. and Waller, B.M.
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Date: 8 April 2022
ISSN: 0146-1672
Rights: © 2022 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 12 Apr 2022 12:47
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2022 12:47

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