Well, this is super depressing – according to a study, almost half of friendships aren’t reciprocated. The essay of social-psychology was originally published in PLOS One. The research was carried out at Tel Aviv University and it is believed that our judgements are very poor when it comes to social bonds. A 50% fail in reading people seems like a huge stat.
“It turns out that we’re very bad at judging who our friends are, and our difficulty determining the reciprocity of friendship significantly limits our ability to engage in cooperative arrangements,” explained Dr Erez Shmueli, a researcher at Tel Aviv University.
“We learned that we can’t rely on our instincts or intuition. There must be an objective way to measure these relationships and quantify their impact.”
In the experiment, 84 mature students were asked to rate each other on a scale from one to five, reports Daily Times.
1 = stranger
3 = friend
5 = best friends
This study was backed up with a survey data from 600 students in Israel, US and Europe which produced similar results. From this information, the researchers created an algorithm to work out whether camaraderie was reciprocated or unrequited.
“We found that 95 percent of participants thought their relationships were reciprocal,” said Dr Shmueli. “If you think someone is your friend, you expect him to feel the same way. But in fact that’s not the case, only 50 percent of those polled matched up in the bidirectional friendship category.”
“Our algorithm not only tells us whether a friendship is reciprocal or not. It also determines in which direction the friendship is ‘felt’ in unilateral friendships,” added Dr Shmueli.
This means that they can predict in which direction the friendship works depending on their social status and influence. The closer a person is to another, the more they can exert peer pressure and influence them.