Sitting down at your computer for a quick round of Facebook unfriending can be a painful, satisfying, or gloriously cathartic experience. Sure, every now and then its sad to virtually delete someone from your life – especially if they once meant something to you a long time ago. Friendship is strange, and it can change in a matter of weeks or months. Facebook, of course, is far different from “real life.” There’s no way that friendships online could have the similar trajectories as friendships offline – right?
Well, a study from Cambridge University on the “loosing of friends on Facebook” suggests that there’s really not a whole lot of difference between why relationships end on Facebook and how they end offline.
The researchers start off by suggesting that most studies have pointed to an extreme difference in the dissolution of friendships on and offline.
“Self-reported data seems to suggest that Facebook relationships end for reasons different than those associated with dissolution of real-life relationships. Such an assertion has, however, never been quantitatively tested,” they said.
What they found through their analyzation of over 34,000 Facebook relationships is that the reason friends “break up” on Facebook has to do with several factors similar to why they break up offline.
We consider 34,012 Facebook relationships and study whether their decays are impacted by the four factors (Sections “Method” and “Results”). We ﬁnd that a relationship is likely to break if it is not embedded, if it is between two users with a considerable age difference, and one of the two individuals is neurotic or introvert.
The “embedded” thing has to do with the commonality of the two people’s groups of friends. Do they run in the same circles, basically.
The researchers also found that your Facebook friendship is more likely to survive if you share another female friend.
“Relationship[s] between two individuals having a common female friend is more robust than that between two individuals having a common male friend”
Not listed as a factor in friend dissolutions: annoying political statuses and a plethora of baby pictures.[via AllFacebook]