When given the choice, people tend to make friends with those who share the same interests and values as they do. But does that mean these relationships are closer than those formed by individuals who don’t have as much in common? Not necessarily, according to a University of Kansas study.

For the study, which was recently published in the journal Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, researchers surveyed students in Midwest colleges with enrollments of about 500 students and large campuses consisting of about 25,000 students. At the large schools, friends shared nearly every attitude and behavior on which they were surveyed. The same did not hold true among friends at the smaller schools. According to a press release, “This may be because people from the large campus felt they had more choice and that they could more easily switch friends than students from smaller campuses.”

However, the friendships formed on the smaller campuses were rated “as closer” than the large campus friendships. There were no differences on the basis of campus size regarding how long people had been friends or how much time they spent together.

“We found that when you ask people what’s important in a friend, the people at the small colleges and the big colleges were pretty much the same,” said coauthor Chris Crandall in an interview with Today Health.

As for the differences the study noted … “It’s not surprising they’d be closer,” Crandall said. “A small campus is a more intimate experience. But the interesting thing is that they’re less similar — but more close. Our data tells us you should feel free to make friends who aren’t completely similar to you because people with some differences can still be very close friends.”

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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