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Friendship A Deliberate Choice Or A Natural Activity?

Jun 26, 2008
The common perception is that we choose friends whom we like, but a new study suggests that it is more about who gets in contact with us first. Research suggests that the act of choosing our friends is not intentional, rather it happens by itself depending on a number of factors, most important of which is our proximity with the person.

Proximity refers to whether the person befriended is close to us in some manner, whether he is a neighbor, a classmate, or even our partner in a school or college project. We generally think that friendship is based on common interests or values.

This research refutes this, saying that the probability of a person befriending another is no more than the probability of withdrawing a certain number randomly from a box.

In the early school years, friendship is based on proximity, and the peer network is highly dependent on the child's survival systems: the parents, the teachers, and of course his schoolmates.

As children grow up, their horizons widen and they start developing a network of friends on the basis of common interests. As they move into adolescence, the gender barrier evident in the elementary school now starts to break down, and more interaction takes place among children of opposite sexes.

The number of best friends decreases from the earlier years, but the emotional bonding with friends starts to deepen. The intimacy among friends increases, especially among girls, where they share more private thoughts as they age.

Adolescents describe friends in terms of loyalty, genuineness and intimacy, and also as people upon whom they can depend in times of need. Friendship at different stages of growth is realized in different ways.

No matter how friendship develop, however, a recent issue of Psychological Science (a journal of the Association for Psychological Science) reports that sitting in neighboring seats as a result of randomly assigned seat numbers when meeting for the first time led to higher ratings of friendship intensity one year later. The same was true even if participants were merely in the same row.

Have you ever noticed how most of your school friends were in your class seated close to you at some point? Perhaps that is how you met, or maybe you knew each other already but when you sat closer to each other is when you really became friends.

Whatever the researchers say, one thing that remains constant is that friends help in buffering, preventing, and mediating stress; and are also almost always there to cheer each other up during tough times.

Friendships also offer tremendous opportunities for learning from each other, and having fun while doing the same. Moreover, friends help each other in acquiring social skills, which is very important to us as we grow up.

A lack of friends is commonly associated with poor social skills, emotional problems, lack of teamwork skills, poor school attainment and adjustment, pessimism, and lack of communication and interpersonal skills.

All these skills are vital in the modern day world, whereby the successfulness of a person depends to a large extent on these skills, no matter what education you've received.
About the Author
Sara Jones was a fine student but science was a source of frustration she didn't want her kids to suffer. She met Rick and Amanda Birmingham and realized their grasp of everyday science was the secret to making science fun. To learn more about the solution to science stress visit www.SuperFunScience.com
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