By: Ellie Robbins
There are many reasons why it is important for people to have friends. These benefits can be both physical and mental. In a study about endorphins, researchers found that people with more friends have a higher pain tolerance. The researchers monitored endorphin activity by tracking pain tolerance. They were able to do this due to the brain opioid theory of social attachment. This theory claims that “social interactions trigger positive emotions when endorphin binds to opioid receptors in the brain”. This is one explanation of why people are happy to be around their friends, and those with larger social networks have more endorphins, so they have a higher pain tolerance. Friends are a better painkiller than morphine!
It is interesting to note that the endorphin system can be disrupted in some disorders such as depression, which may explain why those who struggle with depression may be socially withdrawn. Another interesting note is that people who are more fit are shown to have smaller social networkers. The researchers theorized that since exercise gives an “endorphin rush”, those who work out frequently do not need to rely on friends to get their endorphins.
Research on social networks and friendships is important to learn more about our health. The many benefits of having friendships have been verified through various studies. Having many friends can even lead to a longer life! Currently, the focus of social networks in psychology has to do with combatting the use of technology that impairs sociality. Hopefully, as more studies published on the importance of being social, people will make more of an effort to be with one another instead of sending texts. So put down your cell phone and go see some friends! It may help ease some pain and extend your life.
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