May 29, 2024 at 12:22 pm

The Enemy Of Your Enemy Really Is Your Friend After All… According To Physics

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

It can be hard to find friends, especially once you’re older.

But according to science, you don’t need to look any further than the enemy of your enemy? After all, having something in common is the surest way to build a friendship from scratch.

There was a theory proposed in the 1940s called the social balance theory – a theory now corroborated by modern physics.

The idea at its center is balance. People want to try to keep balanced relationships within their networks – that means they’re positive.

Source: Shutterstock

Negative and mixed relationships are not balanced, and you need rules to try to set them right.

The classic model has four simple rules, based on the idea that positive relationships are “friends” and negative relationships are “enemies.”

  1. A friend of a friend is a friend.
  2. A friend of an enemy is an enemy.
  3. The enemy of a friend is an enemy.
  4. The enemy of an enemy is a friend.

The new analysis agrees with this simplistic way of thinking.

“We can finally conclude that social networks align with expectations that were formed 80 years ago. Our findings also have broad applications for future use. Our mathematics allows us to incorporate constraints on the connections and the preference of different entities in the system. That will be useful for modeling other systems beyond social networks.”

Two factors were crucial to the new model: not everyone knows everyone else in real life, and some people are more positive than others.

Source: Shutterstock

Even with these constraints in place, we end up with the same social network predicted 80 years ago.

“We have always thought this social intuition works, but we didn’t know why it worked. All we needed was to figure out the math. If you look through the literature, there are many studies on the theory, but there’s no agreement among them. For decades, we kept getting it wrong. The reason is because real life is complicated. We realized that we needed to take into account both constraints simultaneously; who knows whom and that some people are just friendlier than others.”

So there you have it.

Find out who hates the same person as you and strike up a conversation.

If you think that’s impressive, check out this story about a “goldmine” of lithium that was found in the U.S. that could completely change the EV battery game.