The connection between social cohesion and personality: A multilevel study in the Kyrgyz Republic

Mandi M. Larsen, Damir Esenaliev, Tilman Brück, Klaus Boehnke
Published Online:
28 Nov 2018

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As the discourse around societal cohesion grows and policy makers increasingly turn their attention towards improving cohesion, understanding its role for the lives of individuals becomes ever more important. Our study examines whether the social cohesion of the immediate living context is related to the strength of Big Five personality traits among individuals. Using data from a community survey of 6252 adults living in 30 rural sub‐districts in the Kyrgyz Republic, where social cohesion is a sizable policy concern, we conduct a multilevel analysis of the relationship between sub‐district cohesion and individual personality. Results indicate that higher levels of cohesion are significantly related to higher individual levels of agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness. However, no relationship is found with extraversion or neuroticism. Thus, where a social entity has higher cohesion, this entity will also have inhabitants with a greater prosocial and communal orientation towards others, greater conscientiousness and more openness to experience. These findings imply that social cohesion may be one geographical social indicator related to variation in personality traits. Moreover, the findings suggest that understanding social cohesion requires both macro‐ and micro‐perspectives and that its connection to these particular personality traits should be taken into consideration.

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