Larger Social Networks in Older Adults: Two Personality Traits to Watch

New Research Shows Extraversion and Agreeableness Determine Size of Social Networks in Later Adulthood

A recent study suggests that extraversion and agreeableness play crucial roles in predicting the size of social networks in later adulthood. The research, which explored the relationship between personality traits and social relationships, found that individuals with larger social networks tend to experience positive physical and mental health benefits.

The study utilized data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, analyzing cross-sectional and first-last change data. The results revealed that extraversion and agreeableness were strong predictors of social network size in later life. Interestingly, verbal communication skills were not significantly related to the formation and maintenance of social relationships.

The research further revealed that females generally have larger family networks compared to males. On the other hand, being single was found to be linked to stronger friend networks but weaker family networks.

However, the study also had its limitations. The data only measured the inner layers of social networks, potentially missing the intricacies of outer layers. Additionally, the research acknowledged the possibility of bias that might have affected the findings.

Despite these limitations, the study sheds light on the understanding of social networks in later life. It emphasizes the importance of individual differences in social network research and highlights the need for further investigation into the subject.

The study, authored by Jasmine Rollings, Jérôme Micheletta, Darren Van Laar, and Bridget M. Waller, contributes to the growing body of knowledge surrounding social relationships and provides valuable insights for aging individuals and professionals working with older adults. The findings support the notion that developing and maintaining social connections can have significant benefits for overall well-being in later adulthood.

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As society continues to grapple with issues related to aging populations, research like this becomes increasingly important. By understanding the factors that contribute to social networks in later life, policymakers, healthcare providers, and individuals themselves can work towards promoting healthier and more connected communities.


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