Having friends in life is important as they give us both emotional support and practical advice, whenever needed. A new study now suggests that prioritizing friendship is also associated with many health and well-being benefits.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology, indicates that people who invest in friendships enjoy better physical and psychological health, particularly older adults or those with less education.
“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,” said researcher William Chopik, Assistant Professor at the Michigan State University in the US.
“We found that placing a value on friendship was good for people’s health and well-being, regardless of where they lived,” Chopik added.
For the study, the research team involved 3,23,200 participants from 99 countries. Using the World Values Survey, the researchers pulled data from multiple sources, including datasets on friendship, health, happiness findings; economic variables; and cultural variables.
Multilevel analyses revealed that women, people with higher levels of education, and people living in countries that are more economically equal and high in indulgence placed more value on friendships.
Prioritizing friendships in life was associated with better health and well-being, but these associations also depended on many cultural factors, the team said.
According to the researchers, the benefits are especially evident in cultures that are more individualistic, unequal, or constraining.