In this age of Facebook and Twitter, we are all supposed to have hundreds of friends.
But in fact most of us have just two people we would consider to be close friends – down from an average of three 25 years ago, a study claims.Researchers say this is no cause for concern. Instead, they claim that while some of us may be getting ‘more vulnerable’, many are simply becoming more adept at deciding who they can trust to be a close confidant.
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The figure contrasts sharply with the race among the young to collect as many ‘friends’ as possible on social networking sites to prove their popularity.
According to Facebook the average user has 130 friends, but many of these are chance acquaintances or people they will never meet in real life.
But according to Matthew Brashears from the University of Cornwell, although this shrinking social network 'makes us potentially more vulnerable, we’re not as socially isolated as scholars had feared'.
For his study, Mr Brashears used data from a nationally representative experiment.
More than 2,000 adults ages 18 and older were surveyed from the nationally representative Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS) programme.
Mr Brashears found that 'modern discussion networks have decreased in size, which is consistent with other researchers' findings, but that social isolation has not become more prevalent'.
When asked to list the names of people they had discussed 'important matters' with over the previous six months, about 48 percent of participants listed one name, 18 percent listed two, and roughly 29 percent listed more than two names for these close friends.
On average, participants had 2.03 confidantes. And just over four percent of participants didn't list any names.
Female participants and those who were educated were the least likely to report no names on their confidante list.