Value of Friendship More Important in Some Cultures

by Anjanee Sharma on Jan 22 2021 3:52 PM

Value of Friendship More Important in Some Cultures
Researchers have examined the cultural and health benefits of close human relationships in a new study and claim that friends are much more than just trusted confidants.

The study consisted of 323,200 participants from 99 countries, making it one of the largest of its kind. Previous studies only compared a few specific cultures with each other.

William Chopik, the study's senior author, states that friendships are one of the untapped resources people can draw on to pursue a happier and healthier life. They have various health and well-being benefits despite costing nothing.

"We found that placing a value on friendship was good for people's health and well-being regardless of where they lived. However, looking at friendships as an important part of life is more important in some cultures than it is in others,” he continued.

The researchers used data from multiple sources, including datasets on friendship, health, happiness findings; economic variables; and cultural variables, using World Values Survey.

Results showed that worldwide, those who are invested in friendships enjoy better physical and psychological health, especially older adults or those with less education. Individualistic, unequal, or constraining cultures significantly benefit from friendships.

"People who come from more privileged settings have a lot of resources that contribute to their health and happiness, but it looks like -- for those who don't have those resources -- friendships might serve as a particularly important factor in their lives," Chopik said.

Chopik founded and runs Michigan State University’s Close Relationships Lab. One of their major goals is to examine and study friendships so that people can improve their lives for the better.

"In today's world, there's a general feeling that we're in a 'friendship crisis' in which people are lonely and want friends but struggle to make them," Chopik said. "We show here that they're beneficial for nearly everyone, everywhere. But why are they so hard to form and keep? That's what we're working on next."