Some friendships may make one feel more supported: Study

Lifestyle
Typography

A recent study revealed that people perceive they had more support from friends or family who knew and liked each other. 

 

The study was conducted in comparison with an identical number of close relationships that were not linked.

The researchers conducted two online studies. In one study, 339 people were asked to list eight people in their lives that they could go to for support in the last six months. 

Participants rated on a scale of 1 to 7 how much support they received from each person. (Most were listed as friends or family members, but some people also named co-workers, romantic partners, classmates or roommates).

Crucially for this study, participants were also asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 7 how close each possible pair of their eight supporters were to each other (from "they don't know each other" to "extremely close.") 

Based on those answers, the researchers calculated the density of each participant's network - the closer and more interconnected their friends and family were to each other, the denser the network.

Results showed that the denser the networks, the more support that participants said they would be able to receive from them. 

A second study, involving 240 people, examined whether the density of a social network mattered in a specific situation where people needed help.

In this case, participants were asked to list two different groups of four people they could go to if they needed support. 

One group comprised four people who were not close to one another and the other group consisted of four people who were close with each other. 

Participants were then asked to imagine a scenario in which their house had been broken into and they went to their network for support.

Half the people were told to think about going to the four people who were not close to one another, while the other half imagined reaching out to their four connected supporters.

 Results showed that those who imagined going to their tight-knit group of friends or family perceived that they would receive more support than did participants who thought about going to their unconnected friends.

The results also offered preliminary evidence of two psychological mechanisms that could help explain why people feel better supported by a tight-knit group of friends.

 In answers to survey questions, participants suggested that they thought of their group of close friends or family as one entity. They also were more likely to see a closer-knit group as part of their own identities. 

According to the results, both of these factors were related to perceiving more support.
 

With inputs from Agency

Image: Representative Purpose

All Comments