Research Study: Friends vs. Happiness

Last semester, my psychology class was assigned to do a correlation study between any two variables. I chose to study the correlation between close friends and happiness in life. I decided to study these two variables, because often times as college students, we tend to get stressed out and depend on drugs and alcohol to make ourselves feel better rather than depending on the people we trust for help. Although this study contains people of all ages, I was curious to see if there happened to be a correlation between the amount of close friends a person has and how happy that person is.

Hypothesis: The fewer amount of close friends a person has, the happier he/she will be.

We were supposed to survey 20 volunteers to help us conduct this study. In my research, I decided to tweet a link to an anonymous survey asking two questions:

  1. How many close friends do you have?
  2. How happy are you with your life?

The first question was open to any number, while the second question was rated from 1-10. 1 being completely unhappy and 10 being super content. The results were as follows:

Subject

Close Friends

Happiness

1

3 6
2 2

8

3 4

8

4

10 6

5

2

5

6

0

6

7

5 8

8

4

4

9

5

7

10

3

7

11

4

6

12

3 3

13

9

6

14

4

2

15

7

8

16

10 8

17

3

7

18 5

2

19

6

7

20 4

8

And a scatter plot that represent the data above:

scatter

If any of you are familiar with statistics or correlation studies, you might be familiar with the concept of the correlation coefficient. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, basically, your correlation coefficient for any two variables can be from -1 to +1. A correlation coefficient of -1 means that the the two variables have a negative correlation (as one variable increases, the other variable decreases//denotes a negative slope). If a correlation coefficient is +1, then there is a positive correlation (as one variable increases, so does the other//denotes a positive slope). Having a coefficient of 0 denotes that there is no linear relationship between the two variables. Thus, the closer a number is towards 0, the weaker the relationship.

For this study, the correlation coefficient turned out to be: r= 0.14413

Unfortunately, this coefficient invalidates my hypothesis. Even though the correlation coefficient was low, the data reveals that the more close friends a person has, the happier he/she will be. It is possible for the data to be parallel with the hypothesis if the participants were a wide range of different ages, which should be included in future studies of these variables. Since the link was posted on my twitter profile and most of my followers are teens with the exception of a few, a majority of my sample were teenagers

Now, this study does NOT mean that having a greater amount of friends MAKES you a happier person. Correlation does NOT equal causation! It simply means that those who have a greater amount of friends TEND to be happier in their life. One variable does not cause the other variable in any way. Although these two variables do not demonstrate a cause and effect relationship, this study can still pertain to anyone who wants to be happier by social means. 

~Sofia

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