Study: half of your friends don’t really like you

How popular are you? Yeah, not so much. You’re probably only about half as well-liked as you think you are. Those are the findings of new research from Tel Aviv University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Their new study says that only half of the people you consider to be your friend feel the same way about you. Apparently we’re very bad at evaluating our relationships.

“It turns out that we’re very bad at judging who our friends are. We found that 95 percent of participants thought that their relationships were reciprocal,” Dr. Erez Shmueli of TAU says. “If you think someone is your friend, you expect him to feel the same way. But in fact that’s not the case — only 50 percent of those polled matched up in the bidirectional friendship category.”

The researchers conducted extensive social experiments and analyzed the data from other studies to determine the percentage of reciprocal friendships as well as their impact on people’s behavior. They also analyzed the results of six friendship surveys from over 600 students across three continents to evaluate friendship levels and reciprocity.

The bottom line: only half of the people you think are your friends actually consider you their friend.

The researchers pointed out that this can have serious impacts on our behaviour, since our biggest influences on things such as exercise and lifestyle are our friends. Unfortunately, we can’t tell who our friends really are. Said Dr. Shnueli, “Our difficulty determining the reciprocity of friendship significantly limits our ability to engage in cooperative arrangements.”

Of course maybe we could all try lightening up and sharing a few more laughs. Other recent research found that the sound of laughter between people is an instantly recognizable and accurate indicator of their friendship level.