Birds of a Feather Flock Together and Opposites Attract: The Nonlinear Relationship Between Personality and Friendship


  • Haiyan Liu University of California-Merced Author
  • Zhiyong Zhang University of Notre Dame Author



Friendship network, Personality, Social network analysis, Quadratic relation, Factor analysis


Whether birds of a feather flock together or opposites attract is a classical research question in social and personality psychology. In most existing studies, correlation-based techniques are commonly used to study the similarity/dissimilarity among social entities. Social network data comprises two primary components: actors and the possible social relations between them. It, therefore, has observations on both the dyads with and without social relations. Because of the availability of the baseline group (dyads without social relations), it is possible to contrast the two groups of dyads using social network analysis techniques. This study aims to illustrate how to use social network analysis techniques to address psychological research questions. Specifically, we will investigate how the similarity or dissimilarity of actor's characteristics relates to the likelihood for them to build social relations. By analyzing a college friendship network, we found the quadratic relations between personality similarity and friendship. Both very similar and very dissimilar personalities boost friendship among college students.






Theory and Methods