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Key Learnings from The Science of Friendship

Click Image above to Download the “Key Learnings from The Science of Friendship: We are Wired for Friendship”

This post & downloadable paper summarizes the Key Learnings from the Foundation Paper “The Science of Friendship: The Fundamental Concepts of Friendship.”

As we progress towards a more fluid transient culture, what are the effects on one of the most stabilizing forces for society, friendship, and how can technology adapt to meet that need?

Fundamental Concepts of Friendship

  • Friendship is not a static concept, but an ever-changing, crucial part of human experience across time and culture. It is a reciprocal form of connection and interaction.
  • Optimal friend relationships have four important elements:
    • High levels of hope for one’s self and the relationship itself
    • High levels of trust of others
    • High levels of self-disclosure
    • High levels of satisfaction in the relationship
  • Alliances in Friendship are freely chosen and… research shows that we choose friends whom we believe will help us to become our optimal selves.
  • The quality (depth) and quantity (breadth) of our friend network is calculated as social capital.
  • High social capital is strongly correlated with success and well-being.
  • Social Intelligence, or our social competence, is a measure of individuals’ ability to successfully navigate interpersonal interactions.

Friendship in America

  • More Americans live alone, and many postpone marriage and childbearing until later in life:
  • 31 million Americans live in a single-person household
  • Up to 17% of all American women have no children at all (2002 Current Population Survey)
  • 50% of the US population lives in a state other than where they were born (2010 U.S. Census)
  • Greater mobility in American population = Greater need for friend networks

Health, Well-Being and Material Benefits of Strong Friendships

  • The field of neurobiology is demonstrating that human friendships are vital to health and well-being. Our brains and nervous systems repair themselves via interactions with others.
  • Cognitive function increases and depressive symptoms decreases among the elderly with strong social networks.
  • A Duke University study discovered that “isolated” individuals (unmarried and/or with no friend network) were up to three times more likely to die of coronary artery disease within five years.
  • Friendship is especially good in the workplace, although often discouraged by management.
  • In a massive ongoing Gallup research project with more than 8 million, Tom Rath found that:
    • Employees who report having a best friend at work are seven times more likely to report high engagement in their work.
    • Those with more than 3 close connections at work were 96% more likely to report high levels of overall life satisfaction
  • Recent Research Demonstrates that individuals with strong friendships in childhood are more likely to be successful in adulthood and report higher rates of well-being as adults.
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