The benefits of having friends who aren’t ‘just like us’

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Having a strong network of buddies has numerous benefits, from providing assistance when we are down, to a group we can share our ideas with. Could we be missing out on out if we just blend with individuals “simply like us”?

For the majority of us, individuals we see regularly – our social media network – are a specifying part of our lives.

Friends assist us comprehend our location worldwide and research study reveals that strong relationships are connected with decreased stress and anxiety .

But there is a growing body of proof that recommends individuals have the tendency to make good friends with individuals who resemble them.

It might well be that we might all take advantage of expanding the circles we relocate. Blending with a varied set of individuals can promote imagination and advantages both the private and society.

The effect that our social media networks have on the strength of our viewpoints is a location that scientists are examining.

The mindsets we hold most highly direct the method we see the world and are more resistant to being altered by the persuasion of others.

Often, we look for, procedure and keep details that validates our views, while disposing of details that disagrees with our viewpoints.

An example of this “ verification predisposition ” may be the method we pay attention to others’ views on Brexit and whether our company believe it readies, or bad, for the UK.

Most individuals remain in social media networks comprised of similar individuals, whereas a little minority blend with individuals with a larger variety of views.

As groups end up being more varied, proof recommends their members are more available to persuasion and their mindsets to a specific problem ended up being less established .

In the case of Brexit, much of us might have had that “aha” minute, when we understood that practically everybody we understood held the exact same deem we did.

This is why, if you are a Remainer, you might have been impressed to find out the result of the referendum on the UK’s subscription of the EU.

If you were a Leaver, nevertheless, the outcome would have appeared far more apparent – after all, a number of individuals you understand held that view.

It is an engaging example of a present conflict where individuals hold starkly various views.

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Consequences can follow when individuals have such polarised positions.

The propensity of “birds of a plume to flock together” – a behaviour sociologists call homophily – typically reinforces stereotypes about both our own group and those of others.

It can take place in numerous methods, for instance kids in school snack bars organizing themselves by whatever from ethnic background to less intuitively apparent qualities like hairdo and whether they use glasses.

Soon, we can discover our social world divided along lines of age, social class, political views, faith and race.

Additional mental predispositions might then take control of.

For example, we might see our own group as “much better” – for instance, more fascinating, amusing, or notified – and other groups as less beneficial.

In the worst cases, we can move from a small choice for our own group to active dislike of others.

As groups move even more apart, they can wind up residing in various areas, participating in various schools and thinking various “truths”.

Find out more:

  • The BBC’s Crossing Divides series takes a look at stories about the manner ins which individuals link in a significantly polarised world
  • The series encounters BBC News from Monday 23 to Friday 27 April

Ignorance of others’ ideas, sensations and practices can form our views of the world, as we have the tendency to utilize stereotypes to make sense of individuals we seldom encounter.

Despite this, research study recommends that having buddies who come from other groups can be great for us.

It can decrease stress and anxiety about blending with individuals who aren’t “much like us” and eliminate unfavorable expectations of interactions with them.

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This, in turn, can result in more favorable mindsets to other groups in basic.

It allows and motivates us to take the point of view of their members and to feel more compassion to them.

An unexpected impact is that contact with one group of “others”, for instance gay individuals, can alter our mindsets to other groups, for instance individuals with basically loan than us.

Contact appears to minimize partition, bias and polarisation – the impacts of contact drip below one group to others.

The method contact with other groups alters our mindsets has actually been displayed in lots of research studies all over the world.

Most of this early work was carried out in the United States, where research studies of white American and African American trainees following the desegregation of schools discovered that increased contact minimized bias.

Other examples of effective contact, from my own research study group at Oxford University , consist of Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland; Malay, Chinese and Indian individuals in Malaysia and Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot individuals in Cyprus.

Most just recently, we discovered that the merger of formerly different schools, catering for Asian-British and white-british trainees in Oldham, caused more favorable mindsets to one another and more blended groups of good friends.

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Of course, in numerous locations, groups still live segregated lives.

But indirect contact in between them can still cause altering mindsets.

For example, understanding of other groups through shared pals has actually been revealed to lower bias nearly as successfully as direct contact.

People have actually likewise been revealed to alter their mindsets to other groups after enjoying movies, or tv, that represent members of these groups.

For example, research study about the funny Will and Grace, which centres around a relationship in between a heterosexual female and gay males, recommends that mindsets about gay individuals are more favorable amongst those who see more episodes.

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Image caption Are audiences of TELEVISION’s Will And Grace more favorable in mindsets to gay individuals?

This outcome is not merely due to who wishes to enjoy such programs. Experiments that arbitrarily appointed individuals to view programs consisting of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy discovered they were most likely to show lowered levels of bias compared to those who viewed other programs.

Contact is not, nevertheless, a remedy for bias.

Its efficiency is restricted by continued partition, or where a sense of danger is felt when groups blend – validating bias in the worst cases.

Over 60 years of research study – from North America to Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia – recommends that contact in between groups is an effective methods of enhancing relations.

In numerous cases it can see us cohabit more favorably and peaceably in a progressively varied world.


About this piece

This analysis piece was commissioned by the BBC from a specialist working for an outdoors organisation .

Prof Miles Hewstone is director of the Oxford Centre for the Study of Intergroup Conflict .

Follow the group at @OxCSIC .


Edited by Duncan Walker

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Originally released at: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk