Take the time to appreciate and strengthen the close friendships you have with people, because this may be helping you out more than you think.
According to a study conducted by University College London, the strength of investing into friendships with your closest friends helps bolster your network efficiency.
The study also found that your friendship ties were more beneficial, compared to family ties in predicting levels of shared knowledge amongst one another. Researchers knew that hunter-gatherers were among the better populations to study, because of their early known human adaptation and social organization.
In order to better understand the interaction of hunter-gatherers, the researchers from the Hunter-Gatherer Resilience Project used a device called mote, which is wireless sensing technology worn as an armband that can record a person’s interactions.
Mote was used among the populations of Agta and BaYaka hunter-gatherers in Congo and the Philippines to map their social networks. The hunter gatherers would wear this wireless sensing technology as an armband that recorded all of their social interactions in one day.
Through this device, all individual interactions at two-minute intervals for 15 hours a day were recorded for both groups during the one-week duration of the study.
Through the data collected, they were able to analyze unique human traits such as high cognition, cumulative culture and hyper-cooperation while examining the social networks for both groups.
Researchers noted that these human traits have evolved due to social organization patterns unique to humans. One of the authors of the study, Andrea Migliano Ph.D (UCL Anthropology) noted that “making friends and having a friendship network is an important human adaptation, one that has helped us develop cumulative culture.”
He commented that these hunter-gathers have relationships with friends as strong as their family, which helped promote the connection among everyone in the tribe. The exchange of information and culture was easier because of strong friendship ties, and this improved network efficiency.
While the six Agta camps in the Philippines and the three BaYaka camps in the Congo surveyed in the city may have a different culture from ours, it is evident that strong, close friendships help sustain them socially.
Throughout their analysis, researchers observed and found evidence of friendships developing as early in childhood in both groups. They deducted that while randomization of interactions among close kin or extended family did not affect the efficiency of the hunter-gatherer network system, they found a reduced efficiency when there was a randomization of friends.
Migliano Ph.D affirms that the study “illustrates how friendship is one of the secrets to humans’ success as a species”. We can relate this study to how the ever-growing technology of our current society allows us to connect with others and share information much easier.
This is essential for us as a society to learn from others, while continuously improving on the work of others to make new discoveries and change lives.