The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are

Book - 2013
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Discover the unexpected ways friends influence our personalities, choices, emotions, and even physical health in this fun and compelling examination of friendship, based on the latest scientific research and ever-relatable anecdotes.
Why is dinner with friends often more laughter filled and less fraught than a meal with family? Although some say it's because we choose our friends, it's also because we expect less of them than we do of relatives. While we're busy scrutinizing our romantic relationships and family dramas, our friends are quietly but strongly influencing everything from the articles we read to our weight fluctuations, from our sex lives to our overall happiness levels.
Evolutionary psychologists have long theorized that friendship has roots in our early dependence on others for survival. These days, we still cherish friends but tend to undervalue their role in our lives. However, the skills one needs to make good friends are among the very skills that lead to success in life, and scientific research has recently exploded with insights about the meaningful and enduring ways friendships influence us. With people marrying later--and often not at all--and more families having just one child, these relationships may be gaining in importance. The evidence even suggests that at times friends have a greater hand in our development and well-being than do our romantic partners and relatives.
Friends see each other through the process of growing up, shape each other's interests and outlooks, and, painful though it may be, expose each other's rough edges. Childhood and adolescence, in particular, are marked by the need to create distance between oneself and one's parents while forging a unique identity within a group of peers, but friends continue to influence us, in ways big and small, straight through old age.
Perpetually busy parents who turn to friends--for intellectual stimulation, emotional support, and a good dose of merriment--find a perfect outlet to relieve the pressures of raising children. In the office setting, talking to a friend for just a few minutes can temporarily boost one's memory. While we romanticize the idea of the lone genius, friendship often spurs creativity in the arts and sciences. And in recent studies, having close friends was found to reduce a person's risk of death from breast cancer and coronary disease, while having a spouse was not.
"Friendfluence" surveys online-only pals, friend breakups, the power of social networks, envy, peer pressure, the dark side of amicable ties, and many other varieties of friendship. Told with warmth, scientific rigor, and a dash of humor, "Friendfluence" not only illuminates and interprets the science but draws on clinical psychology and philosophy to help readers evaluate and navigate their own important friendships.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, c2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385535434
Branch Call Number: 158.25 FLORA
Characteristics: 276 p. ; 22 cm


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Chapel_Hill_KatieJ Jan 28, 2018

Friendfluence is exactly what the name says: a book about how friends influence each other. The book looks at a wide array of friendships: children who become friends because their parents know each other, friendships formed because of common illnesses, friendships that are fleeting, friendships with like-minded people, friendships with people who are completely different, etc. It also looks at the way friendships can be destructive. The book can get repetitive, but it's a very interesting look at how friendships are formed and in some cases can be more influential than family.

Cdnbookworm Feb 14, 2013

I found this book very interesting. There are lots of books about relationship and family interactions, but not so many about friends. Flora shows that studies document that friends usually have a greater influence on our lives than these other relationships. She covers this research, showing the influence that friendships have whether they continue frequent contact or not, whether they are close geographically or not. She also covers how we make friends, analyzing the different elements that friendships are based on. There are sections for childhood friendships and teen friendships, the good things that come with friendships and the bad, There is also a chapter on virtual friendship, a trend that is becoming more common.
I am a person who doesn't have a lot of friends, and I started thinking about the reasons for this. During my youth, my family moved around a fair bit, so while I made friends, I usually lost touch with them after I moved away. And I never had a lot of friends, always just a couple at a time. Lately most of my friends have been people I have worked with, which in many ways are different kinds of friendship than people you share more down time interests with. At the point I am at in my life right now, I honestly couldn't name a "best friend". This is something I will be thinking about and looking at how I spend my non-work hours to make time for potential friends, or to spend time with the more casual friends I have now.
I always like a book that gets me thinking, especially when I am thinking about changing my life in positive ways.


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