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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

How much is in our friendships?

Por sumily

One of the needs in the current times of scientists is to know more about human nature, they want to know what makes friendship so healthy and isolation so harmful, and are collecting provocative clues, although not necessarily definitive.Nicholas Christakis, author of Connected: The Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our World and biosociologist at Yale University, and colleagues recently showed that people with strong social ties have, by comparison, low concentrations of fibrinogen, a protein associated with the type of chronic inflammation that is believed to cause many diseases. It remains a mystery why sociability could help block inflammation.Researchers have also been intrigued by the evidence of friendship between animals and not only those known for their sociability, such as primates, dolphins and elephants.


For some time, experts have the knowledge that each person chooses similar friends in a wide range of characteristics: age, religion, socioeconomic status, educational, political preferences, degree of neatness and, even, the strength of grip on shake hands. The impulse toward homophily, that is, that particular interest of each one to link with those who are, as far as possible, the closest thing to us, has been found equally among groups of hunters and gatherers than in more capitalist societies.

According to recent research, the roots of a friendship go beyond what anyone suspects. Scientists have discovered that the brains of close friends, those closest to us, respond in impressively similar ways when observing short videos: the same reflows and waves of attention and distraction, the same maximum point of reward processing here and the same boredom alerts over there.

The patterns of neuronal response evoked by the videos, on topics ranging from the dangers of collegiate football to Liam Neeson trying to make improvisational comedy, were found to coincide so much among friends when compared with patterns studied among people who were not, that researchers could predict how strong the social bond between two people was based solely on their brain readings.

According to Carolyn Parkinson, a cognitive scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles, she was surprised at the exceptional magnitude of the similarity between friends. The results were more convincing than I had imagined and very revealing. Parkinson and colleagues, Thalia Wheatley and Adam M. Kleinbaum of Dartmouth College, reported their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

The results reveal promising evidence to support the vague idea we have that friendship is more than simultaneous interests or having certain coincidences in our Facebook profiles. It's about what we call good chemistry. To say of Parkinson, the deductions indicate that the friends are similar in the way in which they pay attention and process the world that surrounds them. That is a shared process, which could make people bond more easily and have the kind of social interaction without friction that can be so rewarding.

The study is part of the nascent boom on the part of many experts in the nature, structure and evolution of friendship. In the background, there is a virtual mountain of demographic evidence that shows how the lack of friends in a person can be extremely harmful.