Only 53% of respondents in a survey revealed reciprocal levels of friendship
In a world of social media, the definition of friendship has never been stretched further than when you get a request to connect from the acquaintance of a pal’s distant relative. But while we might think of ourselves as having a wide circle, new research says we can draw a line straight through that friendship midpoint, because it turns out half of the people you’re thinking of inviting to a barbeque or your wedding don’t think of you as a friend at all.
The research, carried out by psychologists at Tel Aviv University and published on PLoSOne, asked a small sample of 84 students in the same class to rate their interpersonal relationships with each other on a scale of zero to five, with the latter meaning “One of my Best Friends.” Three was deemed the minimum rating to qualify for friendship.
The polled students were also asked to determine how everyone else in the class would rate them on the same scale.
When it came to analysing the data, the researchers found 1,353 friendships, where one person was rated as a three or higher. However, the numbers also showed that only 53% of the people the polled students called their friends actually considered them their friends as well.
While the sample group was admittedly small, the researchers also looked into other literature and studies on friendship, including groups of 82 up to 3,160 people; factoring in these other studies, the reciprocal rate of friendship was, at its lowest, only 34%.
“These findings suggest a profound inability of people to perceive friendship reciprocity, perhaps because the possibility of non-reciprocal friendship challenges one’s self-image,” the Tel Aviv scientists wrote.
On knowing whether your friend is indeed your friend, the researchers drew the following two conclusions; first, if you and your friend share a large number of mutual friends, you’re more likely to have a reciprocal friendship. Second, if that no-good big-headed trumped-up pal of yours has a lot more friends than you, they’re less likely to consider you their friend. Which is why you never liked them anyway, right?!