College represents an ideal opportunity to gain freedom, explore your academic interests and make lifelong BFFs, whether that’s through a sorority or fraternity, a sport or bonding with like-minded caffeine addicts at the local coffee beanery. But new research from the University of Rochester says that your socialization in college affects not only the four so-called best years of your life, but also your future happiness as an adult. Although the findings may startle you even if you aced Psychology 101, they offer hope that even after the college years, it’s not too late to improve your interactions with others and experience Pharrell-like levels of happiness.
The 30-year study by the University of Rochester surveyed individuals at age 20 and 30, tracked their daily social interactions and then surveyed the participants at age 50 about their emotional well-being. The findings revealed that the quantity of social interactions you have at age 20, along with the quality of relationships you have at age 30, can influence your happiness and well-being later in life. This is thought to be because as 20-year-olds, socializing with others allows you to make sense of the diverse opinions and values of those you meet. This can help you shape and solidify your own outlook on life.
But while a high number of social interactions is desirable in the early twenties, the study suggests that a high quantity of friendships at age 30 doesn’t provide the same lifelong benefits. Instead, at age 30, quality, satisfying relationships are thought to lend the greatest benefits to your later well-being. While it may seem like 20-year-olds are in control of the competition, if you’re a highly social 20-year-old now, you don’t necessarily have a guaranteed ticket to future happiness. The study surprisingly found that a high quantity of social relationships at age 20 didn’t always lead to high-quality relationships at age 30. This is all the more reason to stop counting Facebook friends and Twitter followers and focus on building real, lasting relationships that extend well beyond the digital era.
In addition to the psychosocial effects of socialization, the study highlights other key health benefits to socializing. People with poor social contact were found to have an increased risk of early mortality. Having few social connections is so damaging that it’s thought to be the equivalent of tobacco use! Coming clean about your social habits and working to improve them can ensure that you receive a clean bill of health, both now and in the future.
Regardless of your age, we think it’s never too late to connect both with your fellow Brit + Co community members and with the inspired minds in your local community. So shoot the breeze with your buds and venture out of your comfort zone to share, build and connect. Your future happiness awaits you.
How often do you socialize? Let us know in the comments below!