According to one disheartening new study published in PLOS ONE, about half of the people you call your friends wouldn't say the same. Obviously, this leads to a lot of misunderstanding, especially for individuals who mistakenly think they have a lot of influence among their peers.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University and MIT who co-authored the study write,
Individuals commonly assume their affective relationships to be reciprocal by default.
That is, if I think we're friends, then I expect you to feel the same way. According to this new study, though, half of the time I'm wrong in making this assessment. The results come from data gathered from self-reported surveys taken by roughly 600 college students. In the survey, students were asked to rate their relationships with fellow participants on a scale from zero to five -- zero being "who the eff is this person?" and five being "we're best friends for life."
A whopping 95 percent of the students surveyed misidentified the reciprocal status of their relationships. From there, the researchers turned their findings into a "friendship algorithm" that's able to predict reciprocality based on a handful of factors. The total number of friends you have along with the number of friends you have in common with someone else in your group could determine how likely you are to misidentify relationships.
So, what does all of this mean ultimately besides the fact that we're all going to die alone? Basically, by knowing our innate susceptibility to misjudge our relationships and, in turn, our influence, we can take a more honest look at which friendships really matter and which don't. So next time your buddy asks you to do a favor, ask yourself if he'd be as dependable. If the thought is laughable, then he's probably not BFF material, plain and simple.