Do you prefer to have a few close friends or a larger social circle that is less deep? Social psychologists say your preference reflect your personality but also individual circumstances – like socioeconomic conditions.
Social psychologists Shigehiro Oishi of the University of Virginia and Selin Kesebir of the London Business School say that Americans may prefer a large social network, for example, because Americans move around a lot. Thus, it may make sense to spread time and resources across many friends to minimize the loss of any one friend moving away. Economic conditions at a given time are also a factor. When times are prosperous, they speculate, your friends are less likely to need much help, whether it’s covering a hospital bill or providing babysitting, and so a broad network of friends is easy to maintain. But when times aren’t as flush, having more friends might incur huge costs in terms of both time and resources.
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