How to Be Better at Making Friends, According to Science

Dacy Knight
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Christian Vierig/Getty Images

The New Year has us making and committing to goals for self-betterment in 2017. If being better at making friends is on your list of New Year's resolutions, study up on these science-backed strategies highlighted by New York Magazine's Science of Us. Jon Levy, a behavioural scientist studying networking and adventure and the author of The 2 a.m. Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure, recently outlined the most important science-backed lessons you should know when it comes to making new friends. We've detailed our favourites below.

Litmus Tests. Similar to the litmus strips you used in science class, you can use certain tactics to gauge a person's true colours when approaching them. Ask key questions that tap into their character (in an innocuous, playful way). Levy suggests following what organizational psychologist and famed Wharton professor Adam Grant advises asking people: "How much does the average employee steal from a cash register in a year?" Because individuals assume others are like them and would behave accordingly, the higher the number the more likely the responder is dishonest.

The Ben Franklin Effect. Ben Franklin once won over a rival by asking to borrow a rare book from him. Getting people to invest effort in you can kick-start a friendship. Levy notes how research has shown you can bond quickly with strangers by asking small then increasingly larger favours. With each opportunity to invest more effort, they like you more.

Misattribution of Arousal. When someone experiences physical arousal—excitement, adventure, laughter—during a shared experience, they attribute the feelings not only to the experience but also to the people they're with. For example, when you're out at a comedy show, your company will perceive you as being funnier as well, even when you're not the one cracking the jokes.

Head to the comments to share your thoughts on these science-backed strategies.

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