Why do Humans and Animals Have Friends?

Recent research on what motivates friendship in human and animals societies has challenged theories of evolutionary biology which suggest reciprocal bonds are formed simply to survive. 

What's the Latest Development?

Establishing and maintaining a network of friends is not simply about currying favor to aid in survival, contrary to what theories on evolutionary biology would suggest. A string of recent experiments that examine how humans and animals make and keep friends suggests that our alliances go deeper than tit-for-tat exchanges. Friendships in groups of sharks and dolphins, for example, demonstrate that behavior motivated by loyalty is capable of trumping simple reciprocity. In primates, one's circle of friends also helps to determine an individual's place in the social pecking order. 

What's the Big Idea?

Recent studies have challenged the simplistic notion than friendships are nothing more than mutually beneficial relationships which helped our ancestors survive harsh environmental elements. If friendships mirror political relationships, it seems that having similar cultural backgrounds is an important characteristic. "...despite the fact that the US traded with China over three times more than with the UK in 2006, the UK is far more likely to be described as a 'friend' of America. They suggest that if 'friendships are like international alliances, then friendship will not be well-explained by exchanges of benefits.'"

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at the BBC

Related Articles

How schizophrenia is linked to common personality type

Both schizophrenics and people with a common personality type share similar brain patterns.

Mind & Brain
  • A new study shows that people with a common personality type share brain activity with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • The study gives insight into how the brain activity associated with mental illnesses relates to brain activity in healthy individuals.
  • This finding not only improves our understanding of how the brain works but may one day be applied to treatments.
Keep reading Show less

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less