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Similarity & Difference

For a team to work well together as colleagues, there needs to be the right balance of differences and similarities between the members of the group. While it may be important to unite different experiences and cultures in a team on the grounds of diversity, it is equally important for a team to have a good personal basis.  
Professional matching can take both into account: professional diversity and personal similarities. Both criteria can be designed according to the aim of the collaboration.

Research findings looking at personality and performance in teams and tandems

It has been meta-analytically proven that there is a positive correlation between team performance and a team that was formed based on personalities (Peeters, van Tuijl, Rutte, & Reymen, 2006; Stewart, 2006). The higher the similarities between the team members in the  big five personality factors compatibility and conscientiousness, the better the team performance (Peeters et al., 2006). There is also a positive connection to team performance in relation to the characteristics of compatibility and conscientiousness. This result is also confirmed by another meta-analysis by Bell (2007) for field studies.

Furthermore, meta-analysis shows positive correlations in field studies for extroversion and openness for experiences. Looking at the effect of diversity on team performance, meta-analysis showed that dissimilarities in personality, values and attitudes have a negative impact on individual efficiency (task performance, contextual performance, fluctuation) (Guillaume, Brodbeck, & Riketta, 2012). This correlation is mediated by social integration. This effect was strengthened by high interdependency in the team.

The similarity between manager and employee when it comes to conscientiousness characteristics is positively linked to the employee’s performance (Deluga, 1998). If both manager and employee have a high level of the personality factors compatibility and extroversion, then this is a predictor for dyadic exchange (the so-called Leader-Member-Exchange). Differences in emotional stability, intellectual openness, compatibility and conscientiousness are negatively linked to the employee’s perceived Leader-Member-Exchange quality (Bernerth, Armenakis, Feild, Giles, & Walker, 2008). This also speaks in favour of personality similarities in manager-employee relationships.

In mentoring research meta-analysis showed that similarities in personality, values and attitude between mentor and mentee are strongly linked to the success of the mentoring program (Eby et al., 2013; Ghosh, 2014). Success is defined as a higher level of support to reach goals such as career goals (instrumental support), personal and emotional development (psychosocial support) and better relational quality (Eby et al., 2013).

Instrumental support, psychosocial support and relational quality are in turn positively linked to experience satisfaction. The higher the instrumental and psychosocial support, the higher the learning experience reported. Similarities between mentor and mentee in the personality factors openness to experiences and conscientiousness are positively linked to psychosocial support (Menges, 2015). A mentee will receive stronger support from their mentor if there is a higher level of similarity when it comes to openness to experiences.



Please read the statement Department of Psychological Methods and Diagnostics of the LMU Munich


Bell, S. T. (2007). Deep-level composition variables as predictors of team performance: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(3), 595-615. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.92.3.595

Bernerth, J. B., Armenakis, A. A., Feild, H. S., Giles, W. F., & Walker, H. J. (2008). The Influence of Personality Differences Between Subordinates and Supervisors on Perceptions of LMX. Group & Organization Management, 33(2), 216-240.

Deluga, R. J. (1998). Leader-Member Exchange Quality and Effectiveness Ratings. Group & Organization Management, 23(2), 189-216. doi:10.1177/1059601198232006

Eby, L. T., Allen, T. D., Hoffman, B. J., Baranik, L. E., Sauer, J. B., Baldwin, S., . . . Evans, S. C. (2013). An interdisciplinary meta-analysis of the potential antecedents, correlates, and consequences of protege perceptions of mentoring. Psychological Bulletin, 139(2), 441-476. doi:10.1037/a0029279

Ghosh, R. (2014). Antecedents of mentoring support: a meta-analysis of individual, relational, and structural or organizational factors. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 84(3), 367-384. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2014.02.009

Guillaume, Y. R. F., Brodbeck, F. C., & Riketta, M. (2012). Surface- and deep-level dissimilarity effects on social integration and individual effectiveness related outcomes in work groups: A meta-analytic integration. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 85(1), 80-115. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8325.2010.02005.x

Menges, C. (2015). Toward Improving the Effectiveness of Formal Mentoring Programs. Group & Organization Management, 41(1), 98-129. doi:10.1177/1059601115579567

Peeters, M. A. G., van Tuijl, H. F. J. M., Rutte, C. G., & Reymen, I. M. M. J. (2006). Personality and team performance: a meta-analysis. European Journal of Personality, 20(5), 377-396. doi:10.1002/per.588

Stewart, G. L. (2006). A Meta-Analytic Review of Relationships Between Team Design Features and Team Performance. Journal of Management, 32(1), 29-54. doi:10.1177/0149206305277792