Why we feel the support of some friends stronger than that of others

It is good when we feel the support of friends and family. It would be even better if they were close to each other, according to a study.Experts find that people feel stronger support when it comes from a group of friends or relatives who know and like each other, not from an individual.Support is stronger when those who give it to us are close to each other

According to David Lee, head of research, assistant professor of communications at Buffalo University and postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Ohio State University, the results reveal that having the support of a network of people who are cohesive and united is much more beneficial to us. . The denser this network, the more one believes that one can trust the outstretched hand. In other words, it matters a lot if our friends can rely on each other as much as we can on them all.

David Lee works with Joseph Bayer, a communications assistant, and Jonathan Stall, a psychology student in Ohio. The results of their study were recently published in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly.


The team conducted three online surveys.


339 people take part in the first one. They were asked to list eight people from whom they would seek help within the last 6 months. Volunteers then rate 1 to 7 for each of them, according to the level of support they think they would receive. Most of the people listed are friends or family members, but there are also colleagues, romantic partners, classmates and roommates.

Crucial to the first survey, participants were expected to re-evaluate from 1 to 7 the closeness between each of the two friends listed, with responses ranging from “Don’t know each other” to “Very close.”

The denser the friendly network, the stronger the support

Based on the answers received, the experts calculate the density of the friendly network of each of the participants. The closer they are, the denser the network. The participants themselves say that they feel more supported in cases when their friendly network is denser.

Bayer said: “We have found that networks of friends are not just a collection of the people who make them up. We feel the support more strongly when it comes from the team itself. It will not be the same if everyone individually helps, but is not part of a cohesive community. ”

The second study included 240 people. His focus is on the role of the density of the social network itself in specific situations when a person needs help.


Participants must make two lists of 4 people from whom they would ask for help. In one group, people should not be close to each other, and in the other – vice versa. The organizers of the experiment played out a scenario in which the home of each participant was broken into and he had to seek the support of a friend.


Half of them are asked to imagine how they want help from the four who are not close to each other, and the other half – how they turn to the people on the other list.


The conclusion is that those who would seek the support of close friends feel more protected and vote more trust in them. Others do not feel as strong support from those who do not know each other well.


Finally, participants respond to a survey, the results of which reveal that they perceive their group of close friends as a whole and not as composed of 4 individuals. They often feel it as part of themselves.


Psychologists emphasize that it is not the number of friends or relatives on a social network that is important, but whether there is a close connection between them. “If we have two friends who always support us, it’s great. But it would be even better if they were friends with each other, “explains Stahl.


In purely practical terms, the most important thing is which friends we think of when we have a problem or feel lonely. And Bayer advises: “Focus on your friends who are friends and with each other. This will give you the strongest possible support. “

Leave a Comment