Friendship has wide-ranging benefits for our physical and mental health and general wellbeing.
The health benefits of strong social connections include living longer and having a stronger immune system.
For happiness, the optimum number of friends to have is three to five (sorry, all of those Facebook friends don’t really count as they have to be friends that you connect with regularly in real life).
Read on to learn all about the science of friendship (some of the facts are surprising!) and find out whether you’re a good friend by taking our fun quiz.
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You have more in common with your friends than you might think
We all know that we choose friends who have similar personalities to ours, but did you know that you might be genetically similar too?
Studies have found that our friends don’t just share our interests, they’re genetically similar to us as well.
In fact, we share around 1% of our DNA with our friends, so they’re as as similar to us as our fourth cousins.
Find out more about the surprising science behind how we choose our friends.
It’s harder to identify friends and enemies when you’re tired
Sleep deprivation can have a host of negative side-effects and researchers in California have identified another one: when we’re tired, we have real trouble reading facial expressions.
That means it’s harder for us to tell when someone’s being friendly to us or being threatening.
The study also found that tired people were more likely to feel menaced by neutral or friendly expressions.
Social networks are good for your health (no, we don’t mean Twitter)
Scientists have found that having strong social ties can have real health benefits – particularly as you get older.
A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that social relationships had a real impact on conditions such as obesity, inflammation and high blood pressure.
Spending time with your pals can benefit your health as much as exercise and eating well. Find out more about the health benefits of your social network here.
Photo by Krista Mangulsone, Corinne Kutz, Sam Manns and Arthur Poulin on Unsplash