What Half of Your Friends Think of You

A new study reveals that those good friends of yours may not consider you a friend after all; probably an acquaintance. The study was jointly carried out by researchers from Tel Aviv University in Isreal and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

Dr. Erez Shmueli, the lead author, explained:

“It turns out that we’re very bad at judging who our friends are.”

Using an algorithm that differentiates one-way friendships from mutual friendship, researchers studied data from a good number of social experiments; with friendship surveys from European, Israeli and American students, on who they considered friends.

After analyzing the data, researchers note that only half of those polled have reciprocal relationships.

“We found that 95 percent of participants thought that their relationships were reciprocal,” Shmueli said. “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 percent of those polled matched up in the bi-directional friendship category.”

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While explaining the importance of reciprocal relationships, Shmueli said:

“In this experiment that analyzes different incentives for exercising, we found that friendship pressure far outweighed money in terms of motivation. We found, not surprisingly, that those pressured by reciprocal friends exercised more and enjoyed greater progress than those with unilateral friendship ties.”

  • Abdullah Almaatouq, Erez Shmueli; Are You Your Friends’ Friend? – http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151588: Poor Perception of Friendship Ties Limits the Ability to Promote Behavioral Change.

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