Archives for friendship



Is Texting Good For Adolescents?

The short answer is yes, at least if the goal is to develop more offline friendships. That is the argument of Maria Koutamanis and co-authors in a study published in Computers in Human Behavior:

The first aim of this study was to investigate whether instant messaging (IM) influences adolescents’ ability to initiate offline friendships. The second aim was to study the validity of two underlying mechanisms that may account for this relationship: (a) the opportunities offered by IM to communicate with a variety of people, and (b) to disclose intimate information. A three-wave longitudinal study was conducted among 690 Dutch adolescents (10–17 years old). Results show that adolescents’ IM use increased their ability to initiate offline friendships over time. Furthermore, IM use indirectly increased adolescents’ ability to initiate offline friendships through the diversity of their online communication partners. These findings suggest that adolescents can practice social skills online and learn to relate to a variety of people, which, over time, may increase their ability to initiate offline friendships.

(HT: Kevin Lewis)



“Freakonomics Ruined My Life”

An e-mail from a reader named Eric Durchholz:

Too smart? Yes and it sucks. I am smarter than everyone I know. I hate it. I had to “come out” as smart recently because for years I dumbed myself down just to be able to communicate with people. I constantly quote books and blogs and podcasts to keep from sounding crazy. Between Freakonomics and the works of Malcolm Gladwell, my relationships have suffered from being smart because thanks to you I see the hidden side of everything. Most people don’t want to see or know the hidden side. The more I quote, the crazier I sound. Is this the downfall that Levitt touched on?

I moved to Chicago from Nashville to study improv and it broke my brain. I came to improv late in life and all those years of study and life experience are available for quick access at all times in my brain. Not only that, when I see things now, I see the hidden side automatically and it has made functioning in the world (of non-academia mind you) very difficult. I worked for big tobacco in promotions for years and we couldn’t promote smoking or cigarettes so I learned the value of the hidden side from the front lines.

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Are Online Friends as Valuable as Real Ones?

New research (gated, sorry) by John Helliwell and Haifang Huang suggests the answer may be no, especially for those most in need of friendship. Depending on your perspective, this may strike you as a) revelatory or b) from the Dept. of “Duh.” The abstract:

A recent large Canadian survey permits us to compare real-time and on-line social networks as sources of subjective well-being.  The sample of 5,000 is drawn randomly from an on-line pool of respondents, a group well placed to have and value on-line friendships.  We find three key results.  First, the number of real-life friends is positively correlated with subjective well-being (SWB) even after controlling for income, demographic variables and personality differences.  Doubling the number of friends in real life has an equivalent effect on well-being as a 50% increase in income. Second, the size of online networks is largely uncorrelated with subjective well-being. Third, we find that real-life friends are much more important for people who are single, divorced, separated or widowed than they are for people who are married or living with a partner.  Findings from large international surveys (the European Social Surveys 2002-2008) are used to confirm the importance of real-life social networks to SWB; they also indicate a significantly smaller value of social networks to married or partnered couples.



The Cost of Friendship

Interesting if perhaps not so surprising: in a new working paper called “The Cost of Friendship,” Paul Gompers, Vladimir Mukharlyamov, and Yuhai Xuan argue that even in as performance-based an industry as venture capital, people tend to collaborate with people who have similar backgrounds, often to their detriment:

This paper explores two broad questions on collaboration between individuals.  First, we investigate what personal characteristics affect people’s desire to work together.  Second, given the influence of these personal characteristics, we analyze whether this attraction enhances or detracts from performance.    Addressing these problems in the venture capital syndication setting, we show that venture capitalists exhibit strong detrimental homophily in their co-investment decisions.  We find that individual venture capitalists choose to collaborate with other venture capitalists for both ability-based characteristics (e.g., whether both individuals in a dyad obtained a degree from a top university) and affinity-based characteristics (e.g., whether individuals in a pair share the same ethnic background, attended the same school, or worked for the same employer previously). 

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Eating and Tweeting: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Season 2, Episode 4

We have just released our second series of five one-hour Freakonomics Radio specials to public-radio stations across the country. (Check here to find your local station.) Now these episodes are hitting our podcast stream as well. These shows are what might best be called “mashupdates” — that is, mashups of earlier podcasts with new interviews.

This week: “Eating and Tweeting.” (You download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below). Read More »



Eating and Tweeting

Season 2, Episode 4

In this episode, we look at the tension between “slow food” – a return to the past – and the food future. You’ll hear from slow-food champion Alice Waters and uber-modernist Nathan Myhrvold, who advocates bringing more science into the kitchen – including, perhaps, a centrifuge, a pharmaceutical freeze drier and … a food printer?

Also in this episode: we delve into the social mores of Twitter. Is it a two-way street? Read More »



Friend Turnover

Seven years from now, a new study reports, your friend group will probably look entirely different, even though it’ll still be the same size. Utrecht University sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst surveyed 604 people about their friends and again seven years later, and found that only 48 percent of people’s original friends were still part of their network after that time period. How will social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter affect the rate of friend turnover in the next seven years? Read More »



The Economic Value of Popularity

It probably seems obvious to most people that being likeable and having good friends could be valuable in life. Since most economists are neither likeable nor have good friends, it is an idea that hasn’t been studied by economists until now. My friend Gabriella Conti and a host of co-authors try to quantitatively measure the […] Read More »