The best support system is one where everyone is connected, according to a new study.
While it’s great to have a group of friends to rely on when you need them most or family to get you through a tough time, a new study found that when support systems are close with each other — like when they are connected with each other — it can be extremely beneficial in making you feel more supported.
Researchers from Ohio State University say that the secret to the best social support system is when everyone knows each other. Essentially, if your friends are close to another group of friends, it creates a universal bond between all parties that can benefit both ways.
“The more cohesive, the more dense this network you have, the more you feel you can rely on them for support,” said David Lee, a former postdoctoral fellow at The Ohio State University, in a press release. “It matters if your friends can depend on each other, just like you depend on them.”
The study, which was published online in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly, was comprised of two studies. The first study focused on 339 people who were asked to write out eight people that they can go to for support in the last six months. They were asked to rate each buddy — most being friends or family — on a scale that rated how much support they received. Other support systems came through co-workers, partners, classmates, or roommates, according to the study.
Additionally, researchers had participants in this study rate their support system on whether each member of the eight-person group was familiar with each other.
The results weren’t shocking: those with a closer, connected support group meant that their group was “denser,” which creates a uniform feeling of support. An example would be going through a breakup and having your family in your corner, which can create a collective spirit, according to researcher Joseph Bayer.
“We found that our support networks are more than the sum of their parts,” Bayer said. “People who feel they have more social support in their lives may be focusing more on the collective support they feel from being part of a strong, cohesive group. It’s having a real crew, as opposed to just having a set of friends.”
A second study involving nearly 250 people examined how the density of a network can help in certain life situations such as when a break-in happened at one’s house. Participants were asked to list two different groups of four that they could go to if they needed a hand, while the other group was just four connected supporters.
Like the first study, results showed that the closer friend group — one where everyone was connected — offered more support than an unconnected group.