By Jessica Lyons
Researchers from the University of Kansas and Wellesley College recently released the report 'Social Ecology of Similarity: Big Schools, Small Schools and Social Relationships,' which took a look at formed friendships on campuses as small as 500 students and as large as 25,000. Pairs of friends were approached and asked to fill out questionnaires that looked at their lifestyles and how they felt about areas like politics and religion. The results were then compared to see how similar the friends were.
The findings of the results, which were reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education, were that students on larger campuses were more likely to have friends who were similar. With more students to choose from, it makes it easier for students to find friends who have the same interests or beliefs. Although the study found that friends at smaller colleges weren't as similar, those students reported enjoying closer friendships.
Why Look for Similar Friends?
If friends are too different, it could be difficult for them to really have anything to talk about, making it hard to have a fulfilling friendship. It makes sense that students would form friendships with classmates who would be interested in doing the same things or talking about the same topics. In The Chronicle of Higher Education it was also noted that the more similar friends might be, the fewer problems or arguments throughout the course of the friendship.
Diversity in Friends
While students may naturally be drawn to like-minded friends, there's definitely something positive to be said for having a diverse circle of friends. First of all, it gives individuals a chance to have their eyes opened to new beliefs, cultures and traditions. Even if this doesn't cause students to change their views, it can be good for them to be exposed to things they never thought of before so that they can gain a deeper understanding of the world.
A study from the University of California - Berkeley showed that having a diverse group of friends could even help lower your stress levels. In November of 2008, The Tufts Daily, the student newspaper of Tufts University, reported that the study found that 'cross-racial friendships can actually reduce anxiety in both academic and social situations.'
Making new friends at school is just one way you can make the most of your college experience.