It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“Within just 10 minutes of meeting, people decide what kind of relationship they want with a new acquaintance.” (“Study: First Ten Minutes After Meeting May Guide Future of Relationship,” Ohio State University Research News)
Face it. We’re a judgmental bunch. We’d all like to believe otherwise—it’s more in keeping with our moral code to assert that we’re open to everything, that we could befriend anyone. And maybe some of you can. But if science is accurate, we decide who deserves our time pretty quickly out of the gate.
According to research conducted at Ohio State and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships a few years back, we have a ten minute window in which to win over—or repel—a friend. It’s not so short that we’re going on looks alone, but it’s hardly long enough to get deep into the core of someone’s personality.
And once you’ve made the snap decision of where you want the relationship to go—BFFs, frenemies, civil acquaintances—you can’t help but lead it there.
“If I think we could become friends, I’ll communicate more, tell you more about myself and do things that will help ensure a friendship does develop. If I have a more negative prediction about a future relationship, then I will restrict communication and make it harder for a friendship to develop,” study co-author Artemio Ramirez, Jr. told the Ohio State Research News.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been guilty of this. It can be an especially alluring trap when you’re meeting people one-on-one for the sole purpose of assessing potential friendship. Take my improv class. I have to do scenes with a person regardless of whether I like him, so there’s less pressure on sizing up where I want our personal relationship to go. But when it’s just me and a PBFF sitting across the table on a first girl-date, we’re obviously feeling each other out, mapping our entire future together.
It’d be more fun if we could speak this aloud, at least the positive reactions. I have new friends to whom, upon first meeting, I would have very much liked to say “You seem like the kind of pal I could have a slumber party with.” ‘Cause that doesn’t reek of creepy predator.
Of course, knowing me as you all do, I’m sure you’ve already figured that, sometimes, I do say this.
In fact, reaction to a slumber party invite might be the very thing to make this judgment even more quickly (and accurately?). Cowering in horror? Maybe we’re not the best fit. Clapping wildly with excitement? This could go somewhere.
Have you been guilty of the 10-minute judgment? Was your initial assessment accurate? Do you have a trick for avoiding the 10-minute trap?