It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“Among the many reasons Americans are lucky is that they tend to have people they can depend on. That is one of the takeaways from a recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which in part looked at social relationships and trust around the developed world. The United States is in the middle of the pack of the countries surveyed, with 92.3 percent of Americans saying they have a support network. Compare this to a country like India, where only 59.3 percent of people say they have a network they can depend on in times of need.” (“Lean on Me: Trust and Friendship Around the World”; New York Times, 10/14/2011)
I’ve always been interested in how friendship in America compares with other countries. I’ve never lived anywhere but the U.S. of A., but the sense I’ve gotten from those who’ve spent more time abroad than I have is that mine is a very American quest. In other countries, people may not move around as often as we do, and they don’t stray as far from home.
I’m fascinated by this graph, which ranks the percent of citizens who have support networks by country. 92.3 percent is pretty great, though it only lands Americans in the middle. What, I wonder, puts so many countries ahead of us? What do the French have that we don’t (aside from legit croissants)? Or the Swedes? Is it our crazy work obsessed culture? Or our intense emphasis on being strong and independent, rather than celebrating dependence on our support networks? Clearly, I’m going to need to do some studying up.
Oh, here’s another tidbit that surprised me from this article: “Perhaps partly because they generally have good support networks, Americans are slightly more trusting than residents of other countries; 36.6 percent of Americans agreed that ‘most people can be trusted,’ compared with 33 percent across the developed world.”
I’ve always thought that Americans are, well, not all that trusting. Though, if only 36 percent of us think people can be trusted, that doesn’t really make us trusting. It just makes us less un-trusting than everyone else, right? I mean, apparently 63.4 percent of us think we can’t trust people. (Yes, I said “un-trusting.” Whatever.)
What do you think of this graph? Why do you think the U.S only falls in the middle of support network percentages? And why are we more trusting than the rest of the developed world?