Sointu Leikas

I am a Researcher at the Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki. I joined the PATHWAYS programme in September 2012.

My research interests lie between personality and social psychology. I have studied the relative and interactive effects of personality and situation on behaviour, moderators of personality behaviour relations, and personality perception. My future research will focus on the behavioural phenomenology of social competence, as well as personality and situation effects on social competence.

In November 2013, I was awarded a "University of Helsinki three-year research grant" to undertake the following research.

Research Plan

Personality science has advanced to a point where one of the most pressing questions concerns personality × situation interactions – does personality work differently in different situations? Meanwhile, basic information about actual behavior, about situation effects on behavior, and about the behavior of the same individuals in different situations is sorely needed. The goal of the present research is to provide much needed basic information about the relations and dynamics within the “personality triad” – person, situation, and behavior.

Building on my most recent research (Leikas, Lönnqvist, & Verkasalo, 2012), I focus on social competence and interpersonal situations. I will examine personality × situation interactions in the framework of interpersonal situations and social competence. In particular, I ask, a) what are the relative influences of person and situation on socially competent behavior, b) are some people more competent in certain types of situations and others, in other types of situations (i.e., are there personality × situation interactions on socially competent behavior), and c) what is social competence at the behavioral level. I expect to show that both personality and situation affect social competence both at the behavioral level and at the level of social impressions. Furthermore, I will provide much needed descriptive information on people’s social behavior in different types of situations, both in real life and in laboratory settings.


Leikas, S., Lönnqvist, M., and Verkasalo, M. (2013). Posing personality: is it possible to enact the Big Five
traits in photographs? Journal of Research in Personality, 47:15-21.

Media Impact

Radio interview in Finnish local radio (Helsinki) on my paper “Posing personality: Is it possible to enact the Big
Five traits in photographs”.