HYDERABAD: Snap Inc. released a global study of 10,000 people across Australia, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the UK and the US to explore how culture, age, and technology shape preferences and attitudes around friendship. Ten experts on friendship from around the world contributed to the report to contextualise the data.
“Snapchat’s commitment to enabling self-expression and connecting real friends compelled us to explore the attitudes, values and perceptions that shape friendship across cultures and generations,” said Amy Moussavi, Snap Inc. head of consumer insights. “While friendship may be different across regions and age groups, it plays a universally central role in our happiness and we are committed to finding new ways to celebrate and elevate it.”
The Friendship Report sheds new light on the nature of friendship, including:
- How different cultures’ interpretation of friendship impacts friendship circles: people in India, the Middle East and SouthEast Asia report having three times the number of best friends as those in Australia, Europe and the U.S.
- How friendship is linked to happiness and how those without friends or with overly large friendship groups find it more difficult to talk about their problems or share when they are feeling low. How we consider and form friendships is most heavily shaped by when, rather than where we are born: Gen Z in the US have more in common with Boomers in India than their own grandparents.
- Gen Z are adjusting their approach to friendship away from the Millennial desire for widespread networks and are looking for more closeness and intimacy with a smaller group.
In India, friendship is the most celebrated human relationship with a wealth of popular culture – from songs to movies – extolling its influence on lives.
Indians have more best friends
Indians have on average six best friends. Only Saudi Arabians have more with 6.6, while the UK ranks the lowest with an average of only 2.6. Interestingly, not only do people in India have more friends overall, but they also want more; with 45 per cent of respondents indicating they would like to expand their social circle. In the report, Amit Desai, a lecturer of anthropology at the London School of Economics suggested that the approach to friendship differs from ‘the East’ to ‘the West.’ He explains that in Western Europe and North America, “friendship is about finding people who are like you and bonding over your similarities.” In many Asian countries, including India, he says friendship is more relational and focuses on seeking out an array of new and different friends who bring alternative but complementary qualities to the relationship. Gen Z is shying from large friendship circles.
This approach is changing for the youngest generations however; Gen Z is starting to turn away from such large friendship circles, with the lowest average (5.2) compared to Gen X having the most (7.5). They are also slightly less likely to want as many friends as possible than Gen Y, (44 per cent to 46 per cent), more likely to want a small friendship group of people they can trust (23 per cent compared to 20per cent) and twice as likely as Gen Y to not be friends having a large social group they can tap into.
Indians are almost ready to fall fast for a friend. A third of Indians also say that their best friend is the opposite sex, more than any other country outside of the US. Amit Desai has researched friendship in India extensively and believes that the shift is down to a change in romantic relationships. He suggests that while marriages in urban India have traditionally been arranged by parents, increasingly young people are seeing marriage in romantic terms that include dating, falling in love and having a spouse that is also your friend.