Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why it's hard to make new friends after college

No matter how many friends you make, a sense of fatalism can creep in: the period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends: K.O.F.’s (kind of friends) — for now. ...

In studies of peer groups, Laura L. Carstensen, a psychology professor who is the director of the Stanford Center on Longevity in California, observed that people tended to interact with fewer people as they moved toward midlife, but that they grew closer to the friends they already had. ...

As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.


Hypotheses derived from this model are then tested using data on a large (N = 2956) southeastern community sample. Frequent churchgoers report larger social networks, more contact with network members, more types of social suport received, and more favorable perceptions of the quality of their social relationships than do their unchurched counterparts. Further, most of these empirical patterns withstand statistical controls for a wide range of covariates.
--Christopher Ellison and Linda George, "Religious involvement, social ties, and social support in a southeastern community," on one place where proximity, repeated unplanned interactions, and encouragement to let one's guard down and confide in each other are common


Frequent churchgoers experience an average of 3.36 positive emotions per day compared with an average of 3.08 among those who never attend. This relationship holds true even when controlling for key demographic variables like age, education, and income.

This underscores previous Gallup research that finds very religious Americans do better across numerous dimensions of wellbeing than do those who are less religious or not at all religious.

This analysis is based on more than 300,000 interviews collected as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index in 2011. Gallup and Healthways ask at least 1,000 Americans each day about the positive and negative emotions they experienced the previous day. ...

Not only do Americans who attend a church, synagogue, or mosque frequently report having higher wellbeing in general, but they also get an extra boost to their emotional state on Sundays -- while the rest of Americans see a decline in their mood. ...

As Daniel Kahneman writes in his new book Thinking, Fast and Slow, "it is only a slight exaggeration to say that happiness is the experience of spending time with people you love and who love you." In fact, additional research based on one of the most comprehensive surveys of religion in America, the Faith Matters Survey suggests that how many close friends churchgoers have in their congregations explains higher life satisfaction among regular churchgoers. Moreover, the research found that friendship in church is more strongly correlated with life satisfaction than friendships in other contexts such as the workplace or a book club.