Friendship is one of the most important parts of most people’s lives, but at the same time, it’s something very difficult to quantify.
This is so, among other things, because as in relationships, friendship is not something that you can have on your own, but a relational dynamic involving more than one person. And this is what often makes it unclear whether the degree of intensity we attribute to this relationship comes close to how the other perceives this emotional connection.
When friendship is a simple sham …
But, since a human being is an animal and intelligent, we are certainly very good at gauging whether our friends consider us to be friends … aren’t we?
Well, a recent study published in PLOS ONE suggests that about half of our friendships might not be shared. That is, in half of the cases, the person we believe to be our friend does not see us as a relevant friendship, which could lead them to be seen as false friends or just people as courtesy. is taken by genuine affection.
How was the research conducted?
A group of 84 people aged 23 to 38 was used as a sample to conduct this research. The aim of the study was to see to what extent the relational dynamics of a community of people affect the persuasion of its members, the creation of currents of opinion, etc. However, one of the things that caught my attention the most was related to another topic.
In order to have data to work on, the researchers asked them to rate a 5 to the extent to which they considered others to be friends, with 1 being the ‘is a stranger’ option and the 5 being ‘best friend’. . Outraged, each individual was to rate, also on a 5-point scale, how much they believed the other person considered them a friend..
Usually, the vast majority of participants were optimistic about the assessment of the quality of their friendships. In 94% of the cases, people used the same number to quantify the degree of friendship they felt and the degree to which they believed the other person was theirs. In other words, there was a clear tendency to believe that the relationships were symmetrical and two-way.
Judging from the data obtained, this optimism was based more on an illusion. In 47% of cases, the scores obtained were not the same.
Fake friends? What are your dark motivations?
There are many ways to interpret these results. The first is simply to believe that the conclusions drawn from this research do not correspond to reality. After all, this is only a study and errors in sampling, design or data analysis may have occurred. Moreover, it is still true that this could only happen in certain cultures or populations, and not in all inhabitants of the planet. To find out, we would need to investigate further.
Another way to understand it is to believe that the results of this study are a reflection of what is really going on in our relationships. It could be that we humans are exceptionally bad at distinguishing between true friends (It’s up to us) and others who only act the same way a friend would.
But there is also another possible explanation: that these findings show the consequences of having many non-antagonistic personal relationships. That is, at a time when it is common to have 400 contacts on Facebook, many of whom congratulate us on our birthday almost without knowing us, it is increasingly difficult to know who is spontaneously nice. and who only acts so courtesy.
After all, in a culture where image matters more and more, posture and appearances can also come to envelop what was once our network of relationships based on honesty and affection.