Study has found there is one trait which drastically increases a boy’s chance of having close female relationships.
A new landmark study has found that boys who show a high level of empathy attract on average 1.8 more female friends than their low-empathy peers.
The study is the first to look at the extent to which teenage males and females choose empathetic classmates as friends, and was carried out by the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at Australian Catholic University.
Led by Professor Joseph Ciarrochi, the study looked at 1,970 students with an average age of 15.7 years.
Students were asked to nominate up to five of their closest male and five closest female friends in the same school year as themselves.
To assess their levels of empathy — defined as the ability to understand the emotions of another person — participants were also asked questions such as “when someone is feeling down, I can usually understand how they feel,” and “I can often understand how people are feeling even before they tell me.”
To describe their friendships students were asked to choose from statements including, “My close friend(s)…”, “give me advice,” “help me when I need it,” “spend time with me when I’m lonely,” “accept me when I make a mistake,” “calm me down when I’m nervous about something,” “understand my feelings,” and “explain things when I’m confused.”
The results showed that girls are more likely to nominate empathetic boys as friends, with boys high in cognitive empathy attracting an average of 1.8 more girl friendships.
However the same doesn’t apply when boys are nominating girls as friends, with the team finding that girls with empathetic qualities did not attract more male friends.
The results also showed that the more friendship nominations a boy received from either boys or girls, the more they felt supported by their friends. However the number of friendship nominations received by girls made no difference to how supported they felt by friends.
But regardless of the number of friendship nominations, empathy was linked to more supportive friendships for both males and females.
Professor Ciarrochi noted, “It’s well established that in addition to providing companionship, close friendships promote the development of interpersonal skills, learning, and growth. Having friends has also been linked with lower rates of depression and, to people feeling good about themselves.”
“This research suggests it is critical to identify and teach young people the skills they need to develop supportive friendships. To that end, our study provides a contextual understanding of the role of empathy in selecting and maintaining friendships.”
Source: Times Live