September 30, 2022

Evolutionary Psychology: Making friends can bring magical powers to mankind

“Only the smartest creatures have the conditions to make friends, and humans are among the best.” said Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Having three to five close friends has a good effect on physical and mental health, and even work, career, and family; lack of friends will make you feel isolated, nervous, and vulnerable to diseases.

Recently, Lauren Brandt, an expert on friendship and social behavior at Duke University in the United States, published an article in the British “New Scientist” magazine, explaining from the perspective of evolutionary psychology why humans should make friends, and the magical power that friendship can bring us. .


Two chemicals promote friendship

“For humans, friends are by no means dispensable accessories.” Brandt pointed out that from a scientific point of view, making friends is related to the release of a variety of neurotransmitters and biochemical substances that can make people feel happy. Among them, oxytocin and endorphins have the greatest effect.

Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that is secreted in large quantities during breastfeeding to relax people and promote the bond of love between mother and child. In addition, it can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate. Brandt said that this effect has been extended to interpersonal relationships such as making friends during the evolutionary process. Studies have shown that oxytocin will be released during physical contact with friends, such as hugs, caresses, and massages, and the subsequent joyful mood will encourage people to continue making friends. Even without physical contact, oxytocin can guide people to make pro-social decisions, increase trust, and encourage people to do good deeds.

Endorphins are a neurotransmitter that can make people feel happy. Robin Dunbar once did a classic experiment: subjects were asked to row a boat alone or in pairs, and the content of endorphins in the body was measured before and after the rowing. It turns out that people who have a partner rowing together release more endorphins than those who row alone.

All in all, these two chemical substances are like gifts given to mankind by the creator. In the process of thousands of years of evolution, they have gradually brought us the tolerance, warmth and joy of friendship. They have caused so many strangers who had never met to connect together. , Forming a wonderful network of relationships.


Making friends benefits both body and mind

1. Not easy to get sick. Brandt said that people who lack friends or have poor interpersonal relationships for a long time often have too high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their bodies, and this long-term stress can damage their health. This also explains why lonely people have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and are more susceptible to infection. But if you have a friend with you, the cortisol in your body will decrease, and you will be less likely to get sick.

2. Sleep better. A study by the University of Chicago found that the more lonely people are, the more often they suffer from insomnia. A Swedish study also showed that people who lack friends often suppress and hide their feelings, are more prone to insomnia, and may induce depression.

3. Better memory. A study by Dr. Lisa Berkman from the Department of Human Development and Health, Harvard University School of Public Health, found that compared with those with frequent social interactions, the memory of those with less social interaction decreased twice as fast. He said that social interaction can improve age-related memory loss and can fully develop the brain’s potential.

4. Be smarter. A study by Oscar Barra, a professor at Michigan State University in the United States, found that making friends can make people smarter, because making friends requires dealing with strangers, which is equivalent to training cognitive abilities. For example, if we want to extract topics that are of interest to different people, such as sports, entertainment, life, and fashion, from the brain “database”, the cerebral cortex will always be in a state of excitement.

5. Longevity. A study by Lynn Eles of Flinders University in Australia found that elderly people who have been in contact with more than 5 close friends have a 22% reduction in mortality and an average life extension of 7 years. Sharing hardship can halve worries, and sharing pleasure can double happiness. This may be because friends can help people relieve stress, solve difficulties, get support, and maintain healthy living habits together.


Good-faced people mostly have the “friend gene”

Question 1: Why are some people more affinity?

Answer: Most people with good face have “friend gene”. Research by James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University pointed out that some people are naturally popular, which is determined by genes. However, it does not matter if there is no “friend gene”, because people are more willing to become friends with people who have something in common with them. There is a saying that “the appearance after 35 years old is determined by oneself.” Therefore, in work and life, we constantly learn to have a peaceful mind and cultivate one’s morality. Everyone can become a kind person.

Question 2: Why are some people good at making friends?

Answer: People have two motives for making friends. One is utilitarian-oriented making friends. People like “social flowers” make friends for more material benefits. There are many friends, but the degree is not deep. It is between “one-to-one friendship” and “Close friends” room. This type of making friends is helpful for the rapid success of the career, but it is easy for people to fall into it and form a “friends addiction”, that is, showing off their huge social circle, but in order to maintain this social circle, they have to spend a lot of effort.

Question 3: How many friends can a person make in his lifetime?

Answer: 150 friends is the limit. Dunbar once proposed the famous “Dunbar Number”, that is, influenced by the evolution of the brain, the human cognitive ability allows an individual to have a maximum of 150 true friends (contact at least once a year). But most people’s private social circle does not exceed 150 people, and about half of them are family members. Another motivation for making friends is the ultimate value-oriented making friends. The establishment of this relationship is based on common values, outlook on life and world outlook, focusing on the acquisition of spiritual wealth. When a friend is in trouble, the other party does not hesitate to sacrifice part of his own interests to provide help. There are very few such friends in the life course, usually 2 to 5, but they are lifelong.

Laughter, singing and dancing, and language are the “three treasures” for making friends

Dunbar also pointed out that the friendship between non-blood relatives can easily disappear. If you haven’t got along with friends for a year, the friendship will fade by about 1/3. He believes that the quality of friendship is determined by the amount of time invested. Even social mammals such as apes, which are inferior to humans, will establish and maintain friendships by trimming their hair socially. Human beings are smarter, connecting emotions and expanding social circles mainly through laughter, singing, dancing and language.


Experts remind that if you want to gain and consolidate friendship, you must start with the following three aspects.

1. Be sincere. To make friends, we must “emphasize friendship and neglect interests”, and never play scheming or slippery. Friends must be equal, not just to make “useful people” or to classify friends into “grades.”

2. Good management. Friendship needs to be managed and it takes time and energy to maintain. On weekends, meeting for tea, chatting about the current situation, and giving small gifts during the holidays will keep the friendship fresh.

3. Praise more. In life, if someone smiles at you, you will also smile at him. Giving each other a smile and a word of compliment will help to bring people closer together.