You know that feeling you get? That insecurity-fueled feeling that says your friends are much happier, much more popular, and richer than you?
Well according to researchers in France and Holland, that feeling might be right.
The whole study has to do with averages. Essentially, in the whole world, there are two groups of people:
- People who have a small number of friends
- People who have a large number of friends.
As you might expect, there are far more people in group 1 than group 2. And that’s where the averages come in. The MIT Technological Review explains it like this:
People with lots of friends are more likely to number among your friends in the first place. And when they do, they significantly raise the average number of friends that your friends have. That’s the reason that, on average, your friends have more friends than you do.
This logic can apply to other areas too. On average, your sexual partners have had more sex than you, your Twitter followers have more followers than you etc.
The rule this study is operating off of is called the “generalized friendship paradox” and it is what we can blame for having less friends, and being less popular, than our average friend.