A study has revealed that almost half of friendships aren't reciprocated
While people think of someone as a friend, it is often a one-way street
Researchers say this could affect social influence and cooperation
Understanding limitations could help companies and social groups which rely on social influence for action, say the researchers
Published: 07:41 EST, 6 May 2016 | Updated: 13:39 EST, 6 May 2016
If you can count the number of good friends you have on two hands, you might have a few more fingers spare than you thought after reading this.
Researchers believe that when it comes to social bonds, our judgement is actually quite poor, and only half of the people we consider as friends actually feel the same way.
A recent study suggests this poor judgement of who our friends are could have knock on effects when it comes to influencing and co-operating with others.
A study has found our judgement is actually quite poor when it comes to social bonds, and only half of the people we consider as friends actually feel the same way. Stock image
According to the team, led by researchers at Tel Aviv University, understanding these limitations could boost performance for companies and social groups that rely on social influence for action.
'It turns out that we're very bad at judging who our friends are, and our difficulty determining the reciprocity of friendship significantly limits our ability to engage in cooperative arrangements,' explained Dr Erez Shmueli, a researchers at Tel Aviv University.
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'We learned that we can't rely on our instincts or intuition. There must be an objective way to measure these relationships and quantify their impact.'
In social experiments, 84 mature students were asked to rate each other on a scale from one to five, with one being a stranger, three a friend and five indicating one of their best friends, to see how people reciprocated and marked similar responses for each other.
The team behind the study said that understanding these limitations could help companies and social groups which rely on social influence for action. Stock image
KNOW WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE
The study found our poor judgement of knowing who our friends are could have knock on effects.
In social experiments, students were asked to rate each other on a scale from one to five with one being a stranger, three a friend and five indicating one of their best friends.
The study revealed just over half of those friendships were reciprocated.
The team used the information to develop an algorithm to work out whether friendship was a one-way deal or whether it was reciprocal.
Understanding these limitations could help companies and social groups which rely on social influence for action, say the researchers.
The more they can exert peer pressure and socially influence them affects their behaviour.
While students thought that most of the friendships would be reciprocated, the study revealed just over half of those friendships matched – with a score of one to three.
This was backed up with survey data from 600 students in Israel, the US and Europe, which found a similar mismatch in the levels of who people thought of as friends compared to those who reciprocated.
Using this information, they developed an algorithm to work out whether friendship was a one-way deal or whether it was reciprocal.
'We found that 95 per cent of participants thought their relationships were reciprocal,' said Dr Shmueli.
'If you think someone is your friend, you expect him to feel the same way.
'But in fact that's not the case, only 50 per cent of those polled matched up in the bidirectional friendship category.'
What's more, they were able to predict with high accuracy in which direction the friendship between two people would work, depending on how their social circles overlap and their difference in social status.
Researchers claim friendships working both ways is important and it's all down to influence. The closer a person is to another, the more they can exert peer pressure and socially influence them, which could affect their behaviour. Stock image
'Our algorithm not only tells us whether a friendship is reciprocal or not. It also determines in which direction the friendship is 'felt' in unilateral friendships,' added Dr Shmueli.
According to the team, the reason friendships working both ways is important is all down to influence.
The closer a person is to another, the more they can exert peer pressure and socially influence them, which could affect their behaviour.
The findings were published in the journa lPLOS One.
HAVE YOU PAST YOUR SOCIAL PEAK? PRIME AGE IS 25, SAYS STUDY
Both men and women reach their highest number of connections at 25, a recent study claimed
A recently published study found that a person's peak friendship occurs at around 25 years old.
Both men and women reach their highest number of connections at 25, the researchers say, but males in this group had more acquaintances than females.
In the 20 years that follow, the number of connections will decrease, up until age 45, and this will happen more quickly for men.
After age 39, the researchers found, women have a higher number of connections than men.
In younger groups, people were mostly communicating with peers of similar age, the study found.
Then for both genders, a ‘stabilization’ period occurs between ages 45 and 55, when the number of acquaintances plateaus.
After age 50, people were found to largely be in contact with a younger generation.
During this time, the researchers suggest people are working to maintain communication with their children, which have by then become adults and possibly gotten married and had their own kids.
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3576921/Think-know-mates-half-actually-consider-friend.html