Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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You Don’t Know Your Friends as Well as You Think You Do

A few years ago I remember reading something about how we don’t know our friends as well as we think we do and have been spouting off about it ever since despite being unable to find the article again. Thankfully the Boston Globe had an article with the same conclusion a few weeks ago:

A growing body of experimental evidence suggests that, on the whole, we know significantly less about our friends, colleagues, and even spouses than we think we do. This lack of knowledge extends far beyond embarrassing game-show fodder – we’re often completely wrong about their likes and dislikes, their political beliefs, their tastes, their cherished values. We lowball the ethics of our co-workers; we overestimate how happy our husbands or wives are.

Also really interesting is this sentence: “Work by William B. Swann of the University of Texas and Michael J. Gill of Lehigh University has looked at dating couples and pairs of college roommates and found that, while their confidence in the accuracy of their knowledge of each other increased the longer the two had known each other, their actual accuracy didn’t appreciably improve.” Interesting.

August 24, 2009