Sunday, February 11, 2007

Proximity - Friends with same letter of last name?

I was reading in my Soc. Psych book about attractions, and how proximity is one of the five reasonings of our choices of friends (the other four are association, similarity, reciprocal thinking, and physical attraction). The really cool thing was the study that Segal did in 1974 proving why proximity is a strong predictor of our companionships.
They did a study some police cadets and found that they had friends with the same first letter of their last name! Now how could this be?
I seems that while in training to become a cadet, their dorm rooms were alphabetized by the beginning letter of the last name. This explains why proximity was a factor in their relationships.

But why exactly does proximity work?
Mere exposure to a factor (such as dorm mates with the same beginning letter of last name) creates proximity, as well as more interaction. It is obvious that these men who lived in close proximity of each other got to know one other and their personalities better.

Proximity is also a reasoning for why neighbors are generally friends, at least during your child hood (you may grow up and have friends, but you or your friends might move, situations change).

I thought this was a really interesting study, especially because it explains alot for me. I lived in a small community, and despite the fact that I was a loner child because of my weird behavior, I still had one really good friend. However she is nothing like me in almost anyway. We do not hang out any more (she has moved away, and I lived on the road for a year and went to different schools than she), but this article made me realize why we ever became friends in the first place.
Pretty interesting....


Gigi said...

The proximity idea is pretty cool. I wonder how or if that applies online? Will you make friends with people that you talk to often in school or msn, even though you are not actually physically near each other?

Aaron Grimm said...

I agree, this brings me back to my recent relationship that I have had with co-workers. When you switch jobs, no matter how much you have in common, it is hard to stay in touch.
Proximity and the need for individuals to support each other is also interesting. So proximity is a major factor, if it wasn't I would still be communicating every day with people that I care about. Now, we catch up once or twice a year in some cases.

soporia_pres said...

In response to Gigi's post.

That is a very interesting questioning; How does online proximity affect online relationships? The way I see it is that because of our advances in technology, we can communicate with friends, relatives, and co-workers online which would allow us to stay connected with them without physical proximity. It also allows us to have potential relations with people in different locations, and the proximity factor I think would then be the means we use in order to contact others. For example, many people communicate through chat rooms, blogs, messengers, etc.
How does this affect the proximity? Where as the proximity factor would not be location, it would be the interests of the individuals. Messengers generally allow already found relationships with family or friends to communicate, where as these other forms of online communication are a bit trickier. Many of these forms of communication require certain interests; chat rooms and myspace accounts allow you to meet new people through common subjects of interest, and therefore my theory is that the proximity factor would be the valued interests of the persons, and whether or not you act on these specific interests to meet other people with the similarities there in.
Also, because we have the ability to keep in contact with friends, family, and co-workers via the internet, the proximity factor changes considerably. Because we can stay in communication with people who were once in close physical proximity, we have the ability to be more selective with whom we stay in contact, as well as strengthening friendships that otherwise would be disconnected by certain factors. Also, because people are being exposed to the internet at younger ages, it may affect the way the we exchange and learn from relationships.
I am sure there are more factors of online proximity that would alter the general proximity effect that I am not aware of presently, but this question surely tells us that the exchange of relationships as been much altered by the differences that are now inherent in our culture, such as the internet.

Tanya said...

Here's a word you can look up... "propinquity". It's a fun word to use in conversation, because you sound really smart and it confuses most people. Ask Zach if he knows what it means. :) Tanya