Friendship more important for health than family as we age, study finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. — We may have less time to spend with friends as we get older, but that doesn’t mean that close companionship becomes any less important to our well-being. That’s because our social circle has a greater impact on our health and well-being than family does, a new study finds.

Researchers at Michigan State University conducted two separate, yet related studies, hoping to find the empirical value of friendship.

Group of friends having picnic
A new study finds that friendship is important to our health and well-being as we age than relationships with family members.

The first study analyzed a survey that provided self-reported measures of health and happiness from over 270,000 participants of all ages worldwide. Meanwhile, the second study derived its data on relationships and chronic illness from a survey of nearly 7,500 American adults.

Via the first study, the researchers found that both having healthy relations with family and friends were determinants of good health and happiness in general, but friendship alone was seen to be a solid predictor of positive overall health at later ages.

The second study found that participants who had stress-inducing friends were likely to experience chronic illness, while those who had more supportive friends were happier.

While the notion that friends influence our wellness more than family members may be a bit controversial, it’s important to remember that we have an active hand in selecting friends, which allows us to choose wisely.

For older individuals, friendships can help prevent loneliness when other family members having passed, or from a dearth of workplace interaction.

“There are now a few studies starting to show just how important friendships can be for older adults,” says lead researcher William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology, in a university news release. “Summaries of these studies show that friendships predict day-to-day happiness more and ultimately how long we’ll live, more so than spousal and family relationships.”

Unfortunately, friendships are often ignored in social science research, particularly when compared to more formal relationships, like ones of a spousal and familial variety. Chopik argues this is a mistake.

“Friendships become even more important as we age,” he says. “Keeping a few really good friends around can make a world of difference for our health and well-being. So it’s smart to invest in the friendships that make you happiest.”

Because maintaining strong friendships becomes more challenging with age, Chopik points to the most lasting relationships as also the most important to hold onto.

“If a friendship has survived the test of time, you know it must be a good one – a person you turn to for help and advice often and a person you wanted in your life,” he says.

The study’s findings were published in the journal Personal Relationships.


  1. I deal with many individuals in my career, and hear all about their families. This comes as no surprise.
    Friends are people that you choose. Not so, family.
    Would that everyone had good relationships with both. That, however is a rarity.

    1. With the break-down of the natural family, including skyrocketing
      out-of-wedlock births, shack-ups, and easy, unilateral divorce, it’s convenient to
      smear the term “family,” which has taken on a whole new dysfunctional

  2. Friendship is the only thing that matters.
    If friendship is lacking among family members including married couples then relationships fail. the bonds of family or marriage are stronger if friendship is part of it.
    Friendship is not just between “Friends”

    1. Great point! Any meaningful relationship, when you analyze it carefully, is because of friendship. The highest relationship man has with God is friendship (Joh 15:15).

  3. Call me any name you want. I had to divorce myself from the rest of my LIBERAL family because of their liberal voting & welfare mentality. They had jobs but continued to scam ways of getting freebies. My parent taught me to stand on my own two feet and be self reliant. I am way better off. I am no longer called to fix their f’ups, bail them out of financial or legal jams they themselves create or have to listen to them whine because they are LAZY and refuse to WORK harder for what they want but instead DEMAND HANDOUTS!
    I have a few close friends the rest I just consider as people I associate with. My wife is my true friend and is like minded politically morally and financially as with the people I do associate and the few friends I have.

    1. Wow, are these liberal family members of yours from California by chance? I’m kind of in the same situation, but my left-leaning family members are the way they are more due to the city they grew up in (San Francisco) and the schools they attended rather than other things.

      1. Not family but apparently there are more families that don’t see eye to eye in this world than me or you.
        There are people that care and Do things when and as they can for others, and then there are others that are perfectly capable with much time on their hands, but sit on their butt want/demand it be done for them. Even in my laziest self centered time, I’ve been a doer for others.

      2. My family is that way, limousine liberal types. I had a way different experience growing up and somehow I am more conservative. My relatives from San Fran are out of their minds, can’t have a normal conversation without bashing trump, talking about global warming, social justice etc etc… Others move to other states citing high taxes yet they continue to vote for people in those areas hat want more taxes… It’s crazy

    2. I hear ya! I’m estranged from my entire family for the very same reasons, and will not allow any Liberal/Leftist into my life to any degree at all.

      1. It’s called Peace of Mind for sure. It’s hard because other people may look at you as being the problem.

    3. I am right there with you pal. I too am tired of bailing out my liberal family. Go to work and respect yourselves…I’m done.

    4. Those are your circumstances, all of my family members are conservative through and through. I say that to make the point these studies are bogus because they assume everyone is the same, we are all individuals and all have different circumstances desires and needs.

      1. Very true, but then again Liberals only can see things their way. They can NEVER see the other side of ANY situation, ANY difference of OPINION. IT IS THEIR WAY OR THE HIWAY.

    1. No you’re not! Adopt a dog, best friend you will ever have. Just ask Tigger the Schnauzer….see avatar.

        1. Yes! Dogs are much better people than most “Liberal” humans anymore!

          There Fixed it for you!

      1. Dogs are a nightmare. Demanding constant attention, they smell, they make messes, they bark, they rip stuff apart, they slobber all over you…. Not worth it. Not by a long shot.

  4. more junk science paid for by federal tax money to justify some liberal maroon’s existence.

  5. What a load of crap. The stated goal was to find empirical evidence that friendship benefits heath. Already the two, separate but ‘related’ studies are irrelevant and can only be used to further some sort of unproven opinion of anyone without a brain. This is fishing and a scam. The whole article stinks and is a load of crap. And poorly written. Someone didn’t have a whole lot of time did he?

  6. Best advice comes from Benjamin Franklin – “Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.” I have seen families torn apart – not by their original family – but the the nefarious in-laws that enter into a united family and delight in destroying it. Too many examples to dump here.

  7. From personal observations and personal experiences, friends disappear like rats from a sinking ship in your time of need. You may have one or two stand by you . Many family members jump ship as well but your true friends will turn out to be very close family members. A study of 270,000 of all ages world wide? This is a joke ,right? Psychology studies have become silly and irrelevant , with desired conclusions determining how the data is massaged. This is just another post modern assault on traditional institutions that are the fabric of a functioning society. In this case, the family, AGAIN.

  8. This will be very useful “information” in the ongoing effort to delegitimatize and wither away the family and replace it with the “village” i.e. the State.

    God, I LOVE science-y stuff!

    1. “their” and “their”.

      Not to nit-pick, but good spelling and grammar just looks better.

  9. Well it’s true if you are in a friendship that’s dysfunctional it’s not really a friendship, but if you’re in a dysfunctional family, it’s still a family.
    Family is ‘supposed’ to be closer than friends, but it’s often not the case.

    1. If you’re from a dysfunctional family and you’re “later in age”, I’m gonna guess that you’re going to distance yourself from them so that they don’t affect you. The study is absurd because you can separate yourself from a dysfunctional family member and they’re still your family, but if you separate yourself from a dysfunctional friend then they’re not your friend anymore. So the study is essentially saying, “People who remain loyal to dysfunctional friends have poor health.” No kidding.

  10. I’m not buying this general principle. Friends are friends but when the chips are down, family will always be there (for most of us) while friends will more likely be there for THEIR family. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure friends are important and they are great, but in the end family ties us together.

  11. How can I get in on this ‘study’ racket and make a nice living?
    Not long ago Feds conducted one about how come gay men are slim but lesbians are so often fat. I’m not kidding.

  12. Another useless study to give liberals a salary. Every one of their studies is garbage

  13. “Study:” is a line guaranteed to get me to ignore the article. You can purchase a “study” to find any result you want pursuant to your political agenda, and it goes on all the time.

  14. “Friendship More Important For Health Than Family As We Age, Study Finds”

    Money doesn’t hurt, either.

  15. Friendship More Important For Health Than Family As We Age, Study Finds“..

    …Report Researchers Without Close Family Relationships.

  16. Soon they’ll be telling us that friendships with gays, non-whites and muslimss are the best for your health,

  17. Here we go again. Progressives trying to break up the family unit. The family unit is core to society, without the family unit you have pure socialism. Progressives and globalists are hell-bent on destroying the family. That said, friends….true friends, are nice to have.

  18. With the break-down of the natural family, including skyrocketing out-of-wedlock births, shack-ups, and unilateral divorce, it’s easy to smear the term “family,” which has taken on a whole new dysfunctional meaning.

  19. Here we go again. Kill the family unit. Remove the family unit and you have pure socialism. Progressives and globalists are hell-bent on destroying the family unit to further their power and greed. Just more fake news. That being said, friends, true friends are great to have.

  20. More bullshit. “Studies” either confirm common sense or they are wrong.

    Family IS the most important thing in your life. It is another way to ingrain the idea that marriage, fidelity, close familial ties, etc. are not that important. Right.

  21. Oh Gee! Another University Study! Spare Me Please.

    Considering “The American Family” has been decimated due to self loathing Liberals, feminists and self centered narcissistic people that the only thing they have left is to find so called friends which are usually of The Same Group Think gene pool to help them feel good and validate their own flaws!

    A wise old man once told me: A Best Friend is someone you can completely disagree with and still be close to and is there when you need them not just when they need or want something from you! The rest are associates and acquaintances…

  22. Wow, the first study in the world to conclusively determine that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. Nice work, fellas. Keep up the A+ work. What’s next? “People in colder environments spend more time inside heated buildings?” “Residents of Phoenix use more sunscreen than the average US citizen?” If somebody can scientifically prove that strong body odor is not sexually arousing, that would really put my mind at ease– we can’t leave that unanswered– we need a big “case closed” on that one.

  23. Ridiculous study with overstated conclusion as most subjective studies do.The foundation of love,self confidence,and compassion a persons family gives them are the dominant influence throughout a persons life both good and bad.It affects who you marry and who you choose as friends.In a good marriage ,as I’ve been blessed,my wife is by far my best and closest friend.

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