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Environment & Climate Change

MSU Study: Friendships become more important over time

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steve carmody
/
Michigan Radio

A new study says as we age, friendships become more important to happiness than family ties.

William Chopik is an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University.

He led a pair of studies that quizzed tens of thousands of people from nearly 100 countries on relationships, health and happiness. For the first study, Chopik analyzed survey information about relationships and self-rated health and happiness from 271,053 participants of all ages from nearly 100 countries. The second study looked at data from a separate survey about relationship support/strain and chronic illness from 7,481 older adults in the United States.

Chopik says friendships play a larger role in happiness as we get older. 

“You just have all this free time.  And what do you do with that?  You know, you spend it with your friends,” says Chopik, “Especially if you have family members passing away, friends can really fill that void and make life much more enjoyable.”

Family relationships are often enjoyable too, Chopik said, but sometimes they involve serious, negative and monotonous interactions.

The MSU study is in the latest edition of the journal Personal Relationships.