2 MINUTE READ
Even though you probably don’t give it a lot of thought, we are naturally more drawn to and more likely to befriend people who are similar to us. And, conversely, less likely to extend much interest to people who aren’t.
This has serious real-world implications for people in organizational environments, and there is a stickiness to this orientation that transcends even the most ambitious diversity and inclusion efforts.
The origin of this exclusivity is anthropological: Back before weapons facilitated human dominance over animal predators, our survival depended heavily on familiarity. Safety and comfort were associated with whomever comprised our tribe and we subsequently developed an attraction to people within our in-group, many of whom were related to us.
This sense of kinship extends beyond just our appearance. We tend to “click” with people with whom we have identified commonalities for a number of reasons, including the following:
In addition to the exclusivity our preferences foster, when we surround ourselves with people who are similar to us, it serves as a continual reinforcement of who we are and what we think, which creates comfort and comradery. Unfortunately, however, limited our exposure to different ideas and beliefs, which keeps us in a self-serving feedback loop of sorts and, can – at the team and organizational level – stymie innovation and creative problem-solving.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | Similarity in Relationships as Niche Construction: Choice, Stability, and Influence Within Dyads in a Free Choice Environment (2016)
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships | Is Actual Similarity Necessary for Attraction? A Meta-Analysis of Actual and Perceived Similarity (2008)