In the same way, people choose friends based on their “quality”, and this can only be assessed when there are honest signals being given.
“It’s easier to spot honest signals when meeting someone face-to-face using facial and bodily cues,” explained Dr Reader, “whereas it’s harder to spot dishonest signals online.” Evolutionarily speaking, the size of human social groups has always been limited by the ability of individuals within the group to communicate with each other.
Online social networks tend to be far larger than their real-life counterparts, but online users say they have about the same number of close friends as the real-life average person.
The advent of online social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook is changing the average number of friends people have, with some users befriending literally thousands of others, according to researchers.
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I want to tell you that I have met a terrific guy, he's sweet, generous and very loving, and of course I met him through your agency, it's a miracle.Some 90 per cent of the online friends rated as ‘close’ have been met face-to-face, with the remaining 10 per cent likely to be friends of close friends, perceived as having many of the mutual friend’s attributes and therefore “low risk”.According to Dr Reader, the importance placed on face-to-face encounters is a result of the necessity to base an investment on honest information.Dr Reader and his colleagues wondered whether online networks are somehow reducing the investment necessary to make new friends by lowering the perceived risk.The online survey which forms the main part of their ongoing research has revealed that face-to-face encounters are, perhaps unsurprisingly, still the most important factor in close friendships.