think other people have more friends than you? You’re probably wrong


Most of us have seen those people walking down the street surrounded by friends and wondered how they keep on top of so many acquaintances. You may love your own company (same!), but everyone else seems always to be hanging out with their friends… Right?

The experiment

The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin at the University of Columbia were set to discover whether other people really had more friends after all. They set about interviewing first-year college students who were thrust into an entirely new social situation – almost like wiping the slate clean! They asked the students to describe how many friends they had, as well as how many friends they thought all the other freshmen have. So what could the results be?

Fewer buddies

1,100 students were interviewed in the study to find out who ultimately has more friends. Staggeringly, more than half of those questioned answered they believed others had more friends than they did. In fact, they estimated other students to have an average of 4.2 friends, while they thought they only have 3.6 themselves. On the other hand, 31% of the students asked believed they had a lot more friends than anyone else on the campus – not to brag!

Another test

In another test, the bulletin interviewed 390 students for two years to discover if their results were a one-off. Time would tell. Here they set about asking the students the same questions, as well as asking how much time they thought they spent socializing with other compared to their peers. Could these results back up the first experiment, or was this about to add even more confusion into the mix?

No more friends

Well, their second experiment backed up their first findings! In fact, these students believed they spent a lot more time on their own compared to everyone else on campus. These students even hinted that they had low self-esteem compared to the popular people of the year. They also believed that the others in their year had more friends than they did, but could all of this really be true? It looks as though there might be a reason behind these findings.

The results

Although many thought they had fewer friends, it looks as though these students could have been perceiving things all wrong. The study deduced that social activities often take place in the open where everyone can see you interacting with your friends. Therefore these students assume that they must have more friends as they never see them alone. Well, that’s the point – they’re alone! However, this doesn’t just stick to college; the study also believes our perception of friendship is why as many as half of all relationships could be one-sided. Ouch.

Whether you feel as though you have lots of friends, or like to keep yourself to yourself, it’s all about finding the right social group. But just know, people may not have as many friends as you once thought. After all, it’s all about how we perceive things.