People prefer to make friends who are similar to them


A new study has revealed that people prefer to make friends with others who share their beliefs, values and interests and that the more choice people have, the more their friends are alike.

Angela Bahns of Wellesley College and Chris Crandall and Kate Pickett of the University of Kansas compared colleges in the Midwest with small enrolment of about 500 students with a college with over 25,000 students.

The researchers approached pairs of students interacting in public and asked them questions about their attitudes, beliefs, and health behaviours, and found that on nearly every attitude and behaviour measured, the large campus friends were more similar to each other than small campus friends.

The reason behind this may because people from the large campus felt they had more choice, and that they could more easily switch friends than students from smaller campuses.

They also found that although the large campus friends were more similar to each other, the small campus students rated their friendships as closer than the large campus pairs and both the campuses were equal on how long they had been friends and on how much time they spent together.

"People prefer to make friends with others who are similar to them," the researchers said.

"But one can only choose among the available alternatives -- a person is far more likely to satisfy their specific grocery needs at a supermarket than a convenience store.

"The irony of the situation is that as settings get more and more diverse, friendships become more homogeneous," they added.

The study has been published in Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.

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