GENERICO.ruScienceThe main qualities of an ideal friend have been named: repaying debts

The main qualities of an ideal friend have been named: repaying debts

Experts found no differences in friendship preferences between men and women

A recent study found that qualities such as loyalty, reliability and honesty are considered important in friendships. Meanwhile, the ability to forgive, share information and conscientiously treat debts are declared as not necessary, but desirable traits of a companion.

Specialists found no differences in friendship preferences between men and women

The nature of friendship has always been the subject of philosophical and psychological research. Knowing what qualities people value in friends can help experts understand the benefits and functions of this type of relationship beyond simple companionship, especially in terms of evolutionary advantages.

“Most traditional social psychology theories point to similarity, familiarity, and physical proximity as the main factors that contribute to friendship formation, and only in the last 10 to 20 years have researchers begun to look at individual differences in preferences that may influence who we want to be with.” make friends,” — explains study author, psychologist Jessica D. Ayers.

To determine which personality traits are considered essentials and which are considered luxuries, experts conducted two separate studies.

The first analysis, which involved mostly undergraduate students, used a budget paradigm — an economic methodology developed to model the decision-making process under resource-constrained conditions.

Participants were asked to create their “ideal” friend using a hypothetical budget. Each was given a certain number of “friendship chips” which they could distribute among different character traits to enhance those characteristics in their ideal friend. These qualities included loyalty, trustworthiness, honesty, forgiveness, sharing of information, and conscientiousness in repaying debts.

A key aspect of this method is the use of different budget levels to simulate economic constraints: low, medium and high. Participants assigned to the low-budget condition had to make difficult choices about which features were truly important, as the limited number of chips forced them to prioritize. Conversely, those with a high budget can afford to invest in both essentials and luxury items, creating a contrast that allows them to determine which ones are non-essentials.

Researchers found that qualities such as loyalty, reliability, trust and honesty emerged as core friendship needs. It was these qualities that the participants paid special attention to even under financial constraints. On the other hand, the ability to forgive, share information, and pay off debts are classified as luxuries.

The second study replicated and extended the findings of the first by using a forced-choice paradigm with a larger sample of 449 participants. In this analysis, respondents were faced with forced-choice scenarios in which they had to choose between two combinations of friends' personality traits. This approach allowed the researchers to track which qualities were consistently selected, indicating their relative importance and confirming the distinction between necessity and luxury.

For example, a typical choice might be between a friend who is always loyal but never is never reliable, and a friend who is always reliable, but never loyal.

“Friendly relations— how we create them, what we strive for and how we support them — much more complicated than it seems at first glance, — Ayers explains in an interview with PsyPost. — We are just beginning to understand all the decisions people have to make when they decide to make or maintain a friendship with another person.

Interestingly, the study found minimal differences between male and female participants, which was one of the biggest surprises.

“Most theories of friendship assume that there should be sex differences in friendship/friendship preferences because men and women have faced different adaptation challenges throughout human history. Sex differences have even been shown in some previous work, which I used as the basis for this study,” — commented the scientist.

The researchers suggest that future studies could expand the demographic scope and examine how friendship preferences change over the course of a person's life. Future research could also aim to recreate more complex social contexts to more reliably test these preferences.

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