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Cooperation requires that individuals are able to identify, and preferentially associate with, others who have compatible preferences and the shared background knowledge needed to solve interpersonal coordination problems. The present study investigates the nature of such similarity within social networks, asking: What do friends have in common? And what is the relationship between similarity and altruism? The results show that similarity declines with frequency of contact; similarity in general is a significant predictor of altruism and emotional closeness; and, specifically, sharing a sense of humor, hobbies and interests, moral beliefs, and being from the same area are the best predictors. These results shed light on the structure of relationships within networks and provide a possible checklist for predicting attitudes toward strangers, and in-group identification.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Nat

Publication Date





336 - 347


Adult, Altruism, Cooperative Behavior, Emotions, Female, Friends, Great Britain, Humans, Interpersonal Relations, Linear Models, Male, Morals, Social Identification, Social Perception, Social Support, Social Values