Friendship at First Sight Exists, According to Science

Updated 05/05/19
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Novelists often pinpoint the start of a whirlwind romance as a moment when two strangers lock eyes across the room and feel an immediate spark, but it turns out love isn't the only relationship that ignites at first sight. According to a collection of studies, friendships can be forged within moments of meeting, too. 

Kelly Campbell, a psychology professor at California State University, San Bernardino, lead a study about "friendship chemistry" to find out what causes two strangers to instantly bond while others to remain impartial. "When you first see the person, you don't realize how many judgments you're making, but you're actually gathering information that's telling you if this person fills those needs for you," she told New York Magazine

So what are you subconsciously looking for when you meet a potential friend? "We care about someone who's going to be fun, that we can enjoy ourselves with … You need emotional support, social support, you want then to be loyal and trustworthy, you don't want to feel judged," she says. One study found that it can take as little as one-tenth of a second to form a first impression, but if it's positive, you could be more open to building a stronger friendship with that person. 

If you've ever wondered how you're perceived by others, Campbell's findings suggest a few personality traits tend to result in a positive first impression. Those who scored higher in qualities such as agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness were more likely to say they'd experienced friendship chemistry. 

The main drawback? Like trusting you'll instantly know when you've met your S.O., putting blind faith in friendship at first sight could be a hindrance. Michael Sunnafrank, a communications professor at the University of Minnesota notes, "If you expect [the relationship] not to develop, you're going to make it not develop. If you expect that it's going to be positive, you're more likely to act positively and make it turn in that direction." 

Did you and your best friend "click" the first time you met?

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