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Friends are most valued in cultures where they may be needed most

Research reveals the cultural and health benefits of close human relationships in a new study. According to one of the researchers, friendships are one of the untapped resources people can draw on to pursue a happier and healthier life. They literally cost nothing and have health and well-being benefits.

The study is the largest of its kind and included 323,200 participants from 99 countries. Prior studies compared only a few specific cultures to one another -- but did not take such a comprehensive view.

Using the World Values Survey, the researchers pulled data from multiple sources including datasets on friendship, health, happiness findings; economic variables; and cultural variables.

Researchers found that around the world those who invest in friendships enjoy better physical and psychological health, particularly older adults or those with less education. The benefits are especially evident in cultures that are more individualistic, unequal or constraining.

One of the goals of MSU's Close Relationships Lab is to examine friendships and study them in ways that people can improve their lives for the better.


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