friend rejecting friend friend rejecting friend People are pretty bad at figuring out who their friends are. (Photo: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock)

A surprising fact you should know about half of your friends

A new study reveals that they may not consider you a friend after all.

Don't look now, but that good friend of yours, the one you tell all your secrets ... she might just think of you as an acquaintance. According to a new joint study out of Tel Aviv University in Israel and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, only half of your friends consider you a friend.

"It turns out that we're very bad at judging who our friends are," explained Tel Aviv University's Dr. Erez Shmueli, who led the study.

The researchers analyzed data from a number of social experiments and conducted their own. They also looked at friendship surveys taken by about 600 European, Israeli and American students to find out who they considered friends and whether they considered these relationships reciprocal.

friends showIt's okay, Phoebe. They might not be friends with you, either. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube)

The researchers created an algorithm to distinguish between one-way friendships and mutual friendships.

"We found that 95 percent of participants thought that their relationships were reciprocal," Shmueli said. "If you think someone is your friend, you expect him to feel the same way. But in fact, that's not the case – only 50 percent of those polled matched up in the bi-directional friendship category."

In addition to being pretty mind blowing, this research could help organizations get people to work together better. Right now, lots of people run into trouble when they think a friendship is mutual, but it's actually one-way. To be all Machiavellian about it, it's hard to convince someone to do something if she doesn't consider you a friend, even if it's for her own benefit.

"Reciprocal relationships are important because of social influence," Shmueli explained. "In this experiment that analyzes different incentives for exercising, we found that friendship pressure far outweighed money in terms of motivation. We found, not surprisingly, that those pressured by reciprocal friends exercised more and enjoyed greater progress than those with unilateral friendship ties."


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A surprising fact you should know about half of your friends
A friendship study by MIT and Tel Aviv University reveals that half of your friends may not be your friends after all.