Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

People willing to pay painful price for friendship

Date:
April 5, 2011
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
People will suffer more pain for their close friends than for their acquaintances and sometimes more than they would for themselves, a scientist has found.

People will suffer more pain for their close friends than for their acquaintances and sometimes more than they would for themselves, an Oxford University scientist has found.

Dr Freya Harrison of Oxford University's Department of Zoology asked 19 members of a research group at the University to squat against a wall with knees at right angles -- a ski training exercise which becomes increasingly painful with time.

Individuals performed the exercise five times, once for themselves and once for four different colleagues, to whom they claimed varying strengths of social tie.

They were paid 1p per second squatted and were asked to perform the exercise for as long as they wanted. When close friends won the money, people squatted for much longer than when they squatted for acquaintances -- and often squatted longer (on average around 1.5 times longer) for their closest friends than when they were paid the money themselves.

The study by Dr Harrison and colleagues at the University of Bath, published in this week's PLoS ONE, is thought to be one of the first to measure co-operation between friends and colleagues rather than between strangers.

The researchers believe that, in humans, social ties increase co-operation, a finding that echoes similar studies on other species. For example: the guppy, a popular aquarium fish, works most closely on predator look-out duties with other guppies with which it has social ties. Similarly, spider monkeys more readily share food with those they groom.

Dr Harrison does not believe that the scientific expertise of many of the 19-member research group was a factor in her findings. 'People will always try to second guess an experiment but because all we asked was whether people would suffer pain for others, I don't think the nature of our group skewed the results.

She believes the outcome from a more tightly structured group might be different however: 'If you were low down the pecking order in the police, say, you might expect the fact that someone had power over you to cancel out friendships. And in the armed forces you would imagine a very strong alignment of interests.

The Oxford University study reports analogous results to research published in 2007 that found that participants squatted longer to earn money for closer relatives. Social closeness therefore seemed to have exactly the same effect on willingness to cooperate with others as biological relatedness. However, in the earlier study people seemed unwilling to squat longer for relatives than for themselves.

Maybe that's because friends are a lot more important in determining social benefits than relatives,' said Dr Harrison. 'Alternatively, it could be that the role of a relative doesn't need working on because family members have genes in common already.

Perhaps we can rely on help from our parents or siblings because it's almost always in our best interest to help someone who shares our genes. The old adage that one can choose one's friends, but not one's relatives, may well have a bearing on social investment rules.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Freya Harrison, James Sciberras, Richard James. Strength of Social Tie Predicts Cooperative Investment in a Human Social Network. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (3): e18338 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018338

Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "People willing to pay painful price for friendship." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405122610.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2011, April 5). People willing to pay painful price for friendship. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405122610.htm
University of Oxford. "People willing to pay painful price for friendship." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405122610.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins