Why Science Says We Make Friends

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Photo: Blue Olive

We know why we chose our friends. Don’t we?

Social folklore suggests we make friends with people because we have a lot in common.

Similarly, a lot of us inwardly believe that we are drawn to people because they’re such good human beings. They have so many admirable personality traits!

But science says otherwise.

The simplicity of this ah-ha moment may blow your mind, but what truly brings people together and helps them establish long-term friendship, is the frequency and amount of time they spend together.

Really. It’s that stupid simple. At least according to a 2005 research study published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics which found that living or working near someone was a bigger factor in friendship formation than family background, academic field, common interest, or race.

Think about the most recent friends you’ve made as an adult. Whether it be the neighbor you go running with 3 times a week, the little league mom who has been cheering alongside you for years, or that college buddy who had the same major and class load, chances are your initial bond formed because you saw each other over and over and over again…until your friendship was cemented (maybe without you even thinking about it).

Because of this, coworkers, schoolmates, and other people you see with regularity tend to be a good source of friends. But, of course, this also means life shifts–like a move or a change in job–can negatively impact a friendship too.

The good news? Adults seem to over complicating things. If you want to make friends, just spend time with people on a regular basis. Apparently, the rest just works itself out.

Want to read more research about friendship? Click here or here.

There are 2 comments

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  1. LeeAnn Loves FLA

    This article single-handedly changed the way I’m going to approach friendships in the future. So simple! Thanks.

  2. JuliaGirl90

    This makes so much sense. I never stop to think about this stuff, but then I read stuff here and have AHA moments.

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