The prevalence of dyads in social life

Leonard S. Peperkoorn*, D. Vaughn Becker, Daniel Balliet, Simon Columbus, Catherine Molho, Paul A.M. Van Lange

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A salient objective feature of the social environment in which people find themselves is group size. Knowledge of group size is highly relevant to behavioural scientists given that humans spend considerable time in social settings and the number of others influences much of human behaviour. What size of group do people actually look for and encounter in everyday life? Here we report four survey studies and one experience-sampling study (total N = 4,398) which provide evidence for the predominance of the dyad in daily life. Relative to larger group sizes, dyads are most common across a wide range of activities (e.g., conversations, projects, holidays, movies, sports, bars) obtained from three time moments (past activities, present, and future activities), sampling both mixed-sex and same-sex groups, with three different methodological approaches (retrospective reports, real-time data capture, and preference measures) in the United States and the Netherlands. We offer four mechanisms that may help explain this finding: reciprocity, coordination, social exclusion, and reproduction. The present findings advance our understanding of how individuals organize themselves in everyday life.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0244188
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2020


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