Not everyone has equally good social skills. For some of us it is difficult to find new friends and every time we are forced to change our social environment we find ourselves feeling lonely. Furthermore, this feeling could quickly progress into some mental disorders and psychological conditions as everyone else seems to have a much more engaging social life. However, scientists say that you‘re not alone in feeling lonely.
Studies say that skin of another person always feels softer than your own. Similarly, people around you seem to have more friends and this thought alone can diminish your happiness, as scientists from the University of British Columbia, Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School say. This feeling usually is not true and is mutually shared and yet still it destroys the sense of belonging. These findings are quite interesting, because until now only the size and quality of social network was regarded as important for person’s happiness.
Researchers asked 1,099 first-year students how many friends they had made and to estimate how many friends their peers had made since starting school in September. 48 % of respondents said that other students have more friends and 31 % believed the opposite. Scientists also tracked 389 students who responded that they have less friends that their peers. They found that these people reported poorer wellbeing than those who believed they have more friends than others. However, there is a good side to having fewer friends at the beginning of school year – later you start making more friends than others.
Believing others have more friends that you do is kind of motivating, unless you think the gap is too big – this might be depressing. These social relations are very public – that is probably the reason why students think others are doing better than them. Frances Chen, the study’s senior author, said: “Since social activities, like eating or studying with others, tend to happen in cafes and libraries where they are easily seen, students might overestimate how much their peers are socializing because they don’t see them eating and studying alone”.
These finding may help education organizations to address wellbeing and social climate of first year students. Furthermore, more studies are needed to see if similar feelings are shared between immigrants and people who are moving to new cities. It is about changing social environment, which is something most of us experience at least once in their lifetime.