The Science of Making Friends

While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I stumbled upon The Wall Street Journal article “The Science of Making Friends”. Naturally, I clicked the article. I wanted to know how to make friends!

As I read the on, I felt a sense of deja vu. The article encourages the reader to follow his or her interests, get involved with groups related to these interests, and ultimately meet like-minded people. In other words, the “science of making friends” merely encouraged people to take advantage of affiliation and homophily! (which makes sense intuitively, of course). I especially felt deja vu because we had just completed an exercise for homework on projected graphs, which state that if two people share a common focus, they are likely to connect due to the property of triadic closure. In the article, that common focus was visiting the local coffee shop at the same time every day for two friends. Network theory was true!

 

However, for me there was one part missing: How does one go from knowing a like-minded person to becoming this person’s friend? The author does not quite explain what steps to take to become super close to someone. Rather, she tells the reader to “widen your horizons [to] multiply your options” and be consistent in order to increase contact. In other words, the probability of forming a positive link increases with the number of acquaintances in your network and with the amount of time spent with these acquaintances. In other words, making a friend seems to be a combination of making many acquaintances and…. luck….

The author concludes the article by talking about joining a Facebook group called Scuba Girls for women scuba divers and meeting a group of girls with a similar interest. She recounts, “one woman was different. We bonded over our curly hair as soon as we saw each other. Then we moved on to talk—for three hours—about our jobs, favorite books, relationships and the Midwest, where we both grew up.”

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