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"How people — and animals — are biologically built for friendship"

The Washington Post referenced Generation Xchange, the work of UCLA Fielding School of Public Health epidemiologist Teresa Seeman. The intergenerational program brings older adults into elementary schools to help children with reading and behavioral skills.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Spending time with others improves our health, emotionally and physically. Our risks of depression and early mortality are reduced. The effects are so robust that social connection with others, good friends or casual acquaintances, is now recognized by scientists as a public health issue of equal importance to eating well and not smoking.

We humans are biologically built to seek friends, and we can see suggestions of our evolutionary past in the social behavior of some animals.

In “Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond,” journalist Lydia Denworth explores the science behind friendship. In an accessible and enlightening style, she takes us with her on her journeys to primatology research sites in Puerto Rico and Kenya, and to cutting-edge biology and neuroscience laboratories in the United States. She discovers that female baboons in Kenya who establish stable social bonds with friends and kin have more babies and live longer. Numerous species of animals, ranging from elephants to zebra fish, show evidence of friendships as measured by the degree of the long-term cooperation between pairs of individuals.