Theses Bachelor's

I Think I Like You: A Perceptual And Behavioral Analysis of Friendship Formation

Heinemann, Zachary Charles

Previous research has focused extensively on some of the major causes of friendship formation. Specifically, the previous work may be boiled down to two primary theories: similarity in factors that are “controllable” such as personality and factors that are “uncontrollable” such as demography and structural components. The present work seeks to examine methodological shortcomings in the previous research and propose a series of studies to test the relative contributions of these theories in the formation of friendships. Study 1 examines perceptual underpinnings of friendship formation using an online sample and finds that participants overwhelmingly believe similarity in demographics is the least important factor in friendship formation. Study 2a uses a behavioral sample at two time points and finds that similarity in race and gender overwhelmingly predict friendship formation both a week and three months after meeting, whereas personality factors do not. Study 2b finds that within structurally imposed, diverse groups, the previous effects of homophilic attraction based on race and gender do not persist. Study 3 finds that similarly race and gender predict stronger ties, whereas personality does not and that being in a structurally imposed group negatively predicts best friendships one week in, but positively predicts them three months later. Implications for network diversity and broader attraction processes are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Iyengar, Sheena Sethi
Bergemann, Patrick
B.A., Columbia University
Published Here
August 20, 2018