DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION, & BELONGING
Matching on Similarities AND Differences
People are complex. We uniquely represent a wide range of characteristics (i.e., personality, attitude, values, behaviors and preferences).
When we seek and choose others who we thought would be just like ourselves, it’s not uncommon to later realize, “They just aren’t who I thought and hoped they would be.” This concept is called “homophily” and has little predictive value in relationships.
Most products that bring people together consider only the obvious similarities such as shared interests, values, experiences. To some degree, this method can work. But that type of matching methodology is not considering the value of differences that, when paired for success, demonstrate stronger relational and performance outcomes.
In a great match, sometimes our differences make all the difference.
Personalities Are Fluid
There are so many combinations of overall personality characteristics and attributes, and they are fluid: a little of one thing may take away from or add to another or hold more influence on the relationship experience.
For example, a person may struggle with low self-esteem and yet personally experience a very high sense of purpose; whereas another may struggle with low self-esteem and experience a very low sense of purpose. While both are similar with regard to low self-esteem, when combined with purpose, that low self-esteem is actually experienced in different ways.
Everyone—despite elements of individual and cultural differences—should be provided with equal opportunities to be seen and recognized, not just for their good work, but for being a unique member of a community that cares. Creating a more diverse landscape of students and employees who value themselves and one another will result in students and employees who persist.