Throughout every stage of our lives, we make good friends that keep us going. For most of us, if we have a friend, we hope that they consider us a friend as well. Reciprocity is one of the cornerstones of friendship.
Don't Miss: iPhone 8: Everything You Need to Know
However, a recent study published in PLOS One found that reciprocity is only in friendships about 50% of the time. That's a huge problem. The study came from a team of researchers at MIT who looked at friendships in 84 people between the ages of 23 to 38 who took part in business management classes.
The subjects were asked to rank how close they felt they were to each person in the class on a scale of 0 to 5, where 0 meant "I do not know this person," 3 meant "Friend," and 5 meant "One of my Best Friends."
The researchers found that 94% of the subjects tested expected that their feelings would be reciprocated, but only 53% of them actually are. This is a small sample size, so there are some problems there. Still, it is consistent with several of the other studies from within the last few decades that placed reciprocity at somewhere between 34 and 53 percent.
This gap hints that there are a lot of problems with humanity. We aren't able to clearly define friendship and see how that impacts us, which could affect social change.
One researcher, Alex Pentland, suggested that our inability to read people is something that we use to improve our own self-image.
Stil, things aren't so simple in today's world. Social media has really changed friendship and the way we look at each other.
"Treating friends like investments or commodities is anathema to the whole idea of friendship," Ronald Sharp, a professor of English at Vassar College, who teaches a course on the literature of friendship. "It’s not about what someone can do for you, it’s who and what the two of you become in each other’s presence."
He adds that for many of us, we spend more time interacting with someone on social media than we do hanging out with them.
"People are so eager to maximise efficiency of relationships that they have lost touch with what it is to be a friend," he says.
If you have five true friends who really do love and care about you, you are where you are supposed to be, according to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar. He did a recent study that said that 150 is the maximum amount of friendships we can technically sustain, but we should be able to maintain five friends at a time.
"People may say they have more than five but you can be pretty sure they are not high-quality friendships," he said.
Don't Miss: Incredible Pokemon Gifts
"We shouldn’t assume people with a high number of social ties are 'influencers'," Pentland said. "Such people are no better, and often are worse than average people at exerting social influence. Our results suggest that this is because many of those ties either are not reciprocal or go in the wrong direction, and therefore won’t lead to effective persuasion."