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How do good friends affect our health?
Social relationships become very important, especially in older age, to avoid loneliness and certain illnesses. Researchers have now found that friendships can be even more important to happiness and health than our family relationships.
In their research, Michigan State University researchers found that friendships have a greater impact on our happiness and health than our family relationships. The doctors released a press release on the results of their study.
Researchers are examining data from almost 280,000 participants
For their investigation, the experts analyzed the data from almost 280,000 subjects from various studies. The researchers found that friendships became increasingly important for happiness and health in the course of life. In older adults, friendships are actually a stronger predictor of health and happiness than relationships with their own family members, the scientists add.
Be sure to maintain your circle of friends
Friendships become more important as we age, says author Professor William Chopik. Maintaining a really good circle of friends in old age could make a big difference to your health and wellbeing. In other words, it is advisable that you invest time and effort in the friendships that make you happiest, the expert adds.
Experts evaluate data from two studies
For their study, the scientists analyzed the survey information on relationships and self-assessment of health and happiness of 271,053 participants of all ages from almost 100 countries. A second study looked at data from a separate survey on relationship support, stress, and chronic illnesses in 7,481 older adults in the United States.
In old age, friendships are a stronger predictor of health and happiness
Both family and friendship relationships were linked to better health and more happiness. However, friendship was a stronger predictor of health and happiness at an advanced age, the scientists explain.
Effects of friendships
Friendships are generally very influential. For example, if friends were the source of distress, participants affected reported more chronic illnesses compared to people whose friends were a source of support. Such people were generally happier, the authors add.
Good friends become more and more important, especially in old age
In the course of our lives, we keep some good friends and separate ourselves from the rest. Such good friends produce pleasant feelings and happiness in us. Friends can be a very important source of support for people if, for example, they have no spouse or simply no contact with their families in general, explains author Professor Chopik. Friends can prevent loneliness in older people if they mourn their partner or live socially isolated after retirement.
Family relationships can have negative interactions
Family relationships are often very enjoyable. But sometimes they are associated with serious, negative and monotonous interactions. Summaries of studies show that friendships promote daily happiness and our life expectancy more than spouses and family relationships do, the author adds.
How do I recognize a good friendship?
Friendships are often neglected in relationship research. This is very strange considering that friendships could be more influential to our happiness and health than any other form of relationship, the experts say. Friendships help to avoid loneliness. However, maintaining friendship for life is not easy, says author Professor William Chopik. If a friendship has lasted a lifetime, you can be sure that it must be a good friendship. (as)