This Study Proves Your Friends Don’t Really Like You
Almost half of the people we think are our friends don’t think the feeling is mutual, according to a new study published in PLOS ONE. Yup, nobody likes us — thanks for that one, science!
“Most of the people are wrong about half of their relationships,” Dr. Erez Shmueli, one of the study’s authors, told Mic in an interview. “We are very bad at judging the types of relationships we have.”
And very bad/wrong we are, my friends.
Scientists at Tel Aviv University and researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology teamed up for a study in which they asked students in Israel to rate their classmates. Eighty-four undergraduate students rated their classmates on a scale from zero to five — zero meaning “I don’t know this person,” three meaning “friend,” and five meaning “one of my best friends.”
Students were also asked to guess how their peers would rate them. When 95% of participants thought their friendship ratings would be reciprocated, their hearts were (I’m guessing) broken. About half – exactly 47% – of the friendship ratings were one-sided. Translation: Nearly half of the students who ranked the other as a friend were not ranked as a friend in return. Yikes!
Okay, so how does one become “likable?” That’s my question of the day.
Nobody knows, but researchers did find a few factors that could help predict whether two people would rate each other as equal friends or not. Those being: If they run in the same social circles, if they share the same approximate number of friends, and lastly, if a student only has a few friends, they are more likely to have a one-sided connection with a student who has a ton of friends.
The factors previously listed are obvious, no doubt, but then why was it that so many of the students participating in the study misjudged their friendships? “If you consider someone to be your friend, you expect that person to feel the same way,” Shmueli said. Or, as the report puts it: “non-reciprocal friendship challenges one’s self-image.”
It all comes down to this: If we don’t allow our self-image to be challenged, our ego will keep us from recognizing the difference between a friendship that is mutual and a friendship that is one-sided. “In our daily life as individuals, we can try to understand the kinds of relationships we actually have,” Shmueli said. “Who are the people we can trust?”
Who can we trust? Nobody. How do we get over ourselves? We don’t. Just kidding. Buy a self help book and lose those egos, homies. Or frenemies… I honestly have no idea.