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Why and how do we choose friends?

Why, How?

By Ihsan AlpPublished 2 months ago 3 min read

Why and how do we choose friends?


Famous author CS Lewis said, “‘What! You too? Friendship begins as soon as we say, 'I thought I was the only one.'

Likewise, the Greek philosopher Plato said that “similarities beget friendships”. in 360. Aristotle made a similar comment: “We are said to love those who are like ourselves.”

Friendships that flourish on the sharing of thought and pleasure seem instinctive; but this is deceptive. Most friendships develop outside of family members and spouses. In other words, friendship cannot be explained by genetics or for the purpose of continuing the generation. On the contrary, evolutionary biologists base friendship on mutual benefit. In other words, "if you scratch my back, I will scratch yours" mentality.

But social psychologists found that people don't keep track of the help they give to and from their friends. Primatologist Joan Silk puts it this way: “Reciprocity and equality are important among friends; but the understanding that everything must be paid for in the same way is contrary to the establishment and maintenance of close friendships. If this contradictory situation is indeed true, friendship poses a great puzzle to evolutionary analysts.”


Social Hierarchy

As with other issues related to evolution, looking at the animal kingdom can provide clues. French shark experts investigated whether the congregation of sharks in the same areas had a social explanation, namely the result of companionship, or whether it was because food was plentiful in these areas.

It has been observed that some sharks prefer to be near certain sharks and these friendships last for a long time, while others change their ways to stay away from others. Geographical or regional proximity was not sufficient to explain these friendships.

Dolphins, which have larger brains, have two levels of social hierarchy, as in primates. Groups of males consisting of two or three members formed alliances to protect females from other males, while larger groups with many groups formed in this way were formed to steal females of other groups. The reason for such cooperation may be attributable to genes, as the males in both groups are related to each other.

But an Australian research group has discovered a third hierarchy. Here, on the other hand, there was talk of cooperation between large groups that were not related to each other.

As with human friendships, some alliances between animals could not be explained by reciprocity. For example, while dolphins roamed in groups, even if they were in competition with another group, they could cooperate with foreign dolphins coming to the region for the common benefit.


Strategic Mechanism

Perhaps friendships are based neither on similarities, as Plato and Aristotle advocate, nor on the principle of reciprocity, as evolutionary biologists advocate, but on the preservation of dignity.

In an experiment conducted by psychologists Peter DeScioli and Reobert Kurzban in 2009, subjects were asked to rank 10 non-family friends in order of closeness. They were then told to imagine having 100 points to distribute to these friends.

When the subjects were told that everyone would see the result, they were seen to distribute the scores equally. However, when it was said that the result would be kept confidential, the distribution of points was made in such a way that the best friend gets the most points and the next ones gradually decrease. As social beings with dignity, people acted with the concern that their behavior might be observed by others.

Friendships may function as a strategic mechanism used to provide advance support against potential conflicts in the future. Experts say that in conflicts involving people, the winner is more related to the number of supporters rather than power or skill. In other words, it can be said that the big discourses that friendships are not built on interests are a bit of talk.


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About the Creator

Ihsan Alp

I am a freelancer with very high knowledge of writing, translation and software programs.

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