What’s the Value in Our Social Relationships?

friendshipsA budding topic within the field of positive psychology, is social relationships.

Sociologists and psychologists alike have begun to notice a growing trend in social behavior in the west: namely, that western social norms are moving towards greater social isolation. With the rise of technology – facebook, twitter, instigram, tumblr – young people are becoming increasingly isolated from one another.

In his book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert Putnam demonstrates a severe decrease in group social activity over the past few decades. Specifically, there has been a staunt decrease in participation in non-work spheres: in neighborhoods, religious communities, political communities, and volunteer communities.

This trend has spurred research within positive psychology.

In a groundbreaking literature review by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Timothy B. Smith, and J. Bradley Layton, data was acquired from a total of 148 studies for a total of 308,849 participants, examining social relationships and mortality. Results of the meta-analysis of these studies noted that participants with close social relationships had a 50% greater chance of survival than those with poor social networks.

What?!?!?!? Yeah, I know. Crazy stuff.

So apparently, our social relationships hold a heck of a lot of value.

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