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Do Your Friends Make You Smarter?
Do your friends make you smarter? It looks that way to researchers, who point to evidence that friendships support classroom learning and emotional health in the short term, and physical health, longevity, and happiness in the long run.
We’ve suspected this at Olney Friends School for many years, as we’ve watched students develop deep and lasting ties with kids from all over the globe, others who, like them, are highly motivated, talented, and seeking an education that challenges students at the deepest levels.
To dip into some research on the short- and long-term benefits of a strong social network, I invite you to follow these links.
-Anne Marie Taber ‘79, Librarian
On Academic Success:
- “[B]oys and girls whose friends are socially active in ways where rules are respected do better in their classroom work.” From Science Daily, 2011.
- “[A]dolescents with more in-school friends than out-of-school friends had higher grade-point averages and — complementing this finding — …those with higher GPAs had more in-school friends … Roughly speaking, the more in-school friends a child had, the higher the GPA.” From Science Daily, 2010.
- All teens — girls as well as boys — with close friends and other peers who made good grades took more higher-level math than other teens. From Science Daily, 2008.
- “OK, so friends can keep you healthier and on the right track. But can they also make you smarter? Yes, according to further studies at UCLA. Friends help keep your mind engaged and teach you new skills. For instance, Ciara’s friend Tawnya showed her how to organize her school notebooks, which primed her for studying. In Long Island, NY, Luis, 15, and a pal took turns coaching each other in playing the trombone. A friend can even challenge you to think about how the world works and figure out who you are. ‘One friend has taught me not to let my values be shaped by society,’ says Jini, age 18, from Edison, NJ. ‘He taught me to learn about all the different opinions in the world but choose whichever one I like the best in the end.’” From Current Health, 2007.
On Social Success:
- “Friendship promotes resilience and protects at-risk kids from internalizing problems such as feeling depressed and anxious.” From Science Daily, 2010.
- “Bonding with a buddy raises levels of the hormone progesterone, which boosts contentment and lowers anxiety, reports a new University of Michigan study.” From Parenting School Years, 2009.
A Long, Happy Life: Benefits of Friendship for Adults
- “What Are Friends For? A Longer Life.” From The New York Times, 2009.
- “Adults with strong friendships and/or community involvement lived an average of 3.7 years longer than the normal US life expectancy, according to a 2010 review by researchers at Brigham Young University.” From Men’s Health, 2011.
- “A Carnegie Mellon University study found that people with the most types of social bonds are the least susceptible to the common cold.” From Men’s Health, 2003.
- “With Friends Like These … you could live longer. In an analysis of 148 studies involving more than 308,000 men and women, researchers at Brigham Young University found people with stronger social relationships were 50 percent less likely to die during the follow-up period (average: 7.5 years). On the other hand, lacking friendships and other connections is bad for health and longevity — twice as harmful as being obese, worse than not exercising, and equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, the study showed.” From Good Housekeeping, 2011.
- “A well-known study in Alameda County, California, found that marriage, close friendships and voluntary membership in church or community organizations decreased the death rate from cancer, heart disease and stroke, as well as the total mortality rate for both men and women.” From Total Health, 1998.
- “[R]esearchers found that people who have acquaintances (even casual ones) in a variety of fields tend to be healthier and more successful.” From Men’s Health, 2003.
- “The positive effects of friendship were comparable to those of antidepressants or cognitive therapy” and “the more friends a woman has, the less likely she is to develop physical impairments with age.” From Prevention, 2006
- “[A] 2010 review of nearly 150 studies that was published in PLoS Medicine found that people with strong social ties had a 50 percent better chance of survival, regardless of age, sex, health status and cause of death, than those with weaker ties.” From The Washington Post, 2011.
- “A Pew Research Center report shows friendships rank with sound health and finances as the factors most likely to boost happiness. The study found that retirees who are very satisfied with their number of friends were nearly three times more likely to be happy than those who are worried about relationships.” From Money, 2010.
Yuxi - Friendship
Daniel - My Siblings
Sohrab - Friends Forever
Yuxi - Friends are like family