Based on a new study, the number of friends a person has on Facebook and other social networks is an indicator of success. According to researchers from the London Business School and the University of Virginia, there is such a thing as a “perfect number” of friends online. This number depends on some socio-economic factors, and is different across countries.
Differences Across Cultures
The study was conducted by Selin Kesebir from the London Business School, and Shigehiro Oishi, a professor of psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia. The two researchers looked into the benefits of social networking strategies.
According Kesebir and Oishi, Americans tend to choose a “broad, shallow networking strategy” on Facebook. Outside the United States, however, cross-cultural studies indicate that having a lot of friends is not always a positive thing. Nonetheless, the researchers state that Americans travel a lot, and this could be the reason why they like to have many friends on social networks.
Another Factor: Economic Conditions
The researchers also say that economic conditions are another factor. When times are good, a person’s friends are not likely to need much help — with babysitting or financial aid for covering a hospital bill, for instance. In this case, a wide social network is not that difficult to maintain. On the other hand, when economic times are not so good, having a lot of friends online might lead to higher costs with regard to time and resources.
The works of Kesebir and Oishi have been published in Psychological Science, a publication of the Association for Psychological Science.