Social relationships and intraindividual variability in interpersonal behavior: correlates of interpersonal spin

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2012 Mar;102(3):646-59. doi: 10.1037/a0025313. Epub 2011 Sep 5.


Personality constructs are typically conceptualized as central tendencies of the individual. We explore whether dynamic personality constructs that quantify the within-individual variability of behavior across situations and over time predict the closeness of social relationships. We focused on interpersonal spin, defined as the degree of dispersion in a person's interpersonal behaviors around the interpersonal circumplex across situations and over time. We predicted that individuals with high spin would have social relationships that are less close than individuals with low spin. In 3 studies with different measures of relationship closeness, we found that (a) higher spinners reported that a larger proportion of their contacts in their workplace social networks were distant (Study 1); (b) co-workers were less satisfied and less often engaged in pleasant activities with higher spinners (Study 2); and (c) co-workers avoided higher spinners with whom they were well acquainted (Study 3). Moderated mediation analyses in Study 3 revealed that co-workers avoided well-acquainted higher spinners because they felt more negative affect when interacting with these individuals. The findings suggest the potential of dynamic personality constructs for improving our understanding of the characteristics of individuals' social relationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality
  • Personality Inventory
  • Psychological Distance
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Perception
  • Social Support
  • Workplace / psychology
  • Young Adult