Researchers delve into teenage friendships

New research has delved into the intricacies of teenage friendship networks and discovered three factors are most influential when it comes to the formation of such allegiances. Carried out at the University of Bristol, the study found academic achievement, personality and a mother's education all play a crucial role in determining how youngsters choose their mates.

At the other end of the scale, the investigation showed the income and occupational class of a child's parents were insignificant with regard to who they befriended.

On a subconscious level, the popularity, IQ and likelihood of progressing to university all serve to make adolescents more attractive as would-be friends to their peers, as does bad behaviour such as skipping classes.

Professor Simon Burgess from the university's Centre for Market and Public Organisation - which was established in 1998 following grants from The Leverhulme Trust - said: "It is unquestionable that people select and influence each other, which confirms that social networks are powerful in spreading information, beliefs and behaviours."

Professor Helen Cowie, a Chartered Psychologist and a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, commented: "It is refreshing to read about research into teenage friendship that does not focus on negative stereotypes about this age-group. 

"This research confirms that young people make informed choices about their friends and that the quality of friendship is crucial to them."