HOW MANY FRIENDS ARE ENOUGH?

 
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By the time people reach 30, their desire to socialize already is shrinking, according to a University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, study. Psychologists at the university's Institute for Social Research, however, challenge the common assumption that older men and women, with fewer friends than they used to have, are necessarily suffering from unwanted social isolation.

"There's a negative image that older people have fewer friends than they used to because they are withdrawing from life, or their friends are disappearing because of death or chronic disease. But actually, older men and women may be satisfied with fewer friends by choice," indicates Ph.D. candidate Jennifer E. Lansford, lead author of the study.

She and her colleagues analyzed how satisfied more than 5,400 men and women from their 20s to their 90s were with the size of their social networks, as well as age-related differences in how often people got...

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