Personality traits predict social network size in older adults

Jasmine Rollings*, Jerome Micheletta, Darren Van Laar, Bridget Waller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-984
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number6
Early online date8 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • social network
  • social groups
  • older adults
  • extraversion
  • agreeableness
  • communication
  • English longitudinal study of ageing
  • UKRI
  • ESRC
  • 2123967


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