Month of August , 2007

Toxic Friends: An Interview with Florence Isaacs


Freelance journalist Florence Isaacs, an expert on relationships, friendship, and effective communication in business and social situations, wrote the groundbreaking book on friendship, Toxic Friends True Friends: How Your Friendships Can Make or Break Your Health, Happiness, Family, and Career (Citadel, 2003).

When I decided to write a book about fractured friendships, her book was high on my reading list; if you are interested in the topic of friendship, it should be high on yours as well. She graciously agreed to answer some of my questions about her book and about female friendships in a recent email interview...


Friends in the Digital Playground


There is a lot to learn about friendships from what has been called the "largest-ever global survey" of how kids interact with digital technology. MTV and Nickelodeon, in association with Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions, used both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to talk to 18,000 “tech-embracing” kids (ages 8-14) and young people (14-24) in 16 countries.

The findings from the Circuits of Cool/Digital Playground study found...


Friendship in Strange Places: Science Laboratories


I write a regular column called Mind Matters for the Science Magazine web site,

My latest article, called The Complex Biochemistry of Laboratory Friendships describes some of the opportunities and perils posed by friendships in the workplace. Click here to read the article.


Girl Talk: Too much of a good thing?


The findings of a recent study by Amanda Rose and colleagues at the University of Missouri-Columbia challenge the conventional wisdom that it’s always good for adolescent girls to get problems “off their chest” by talking about them to close friends...


Making time for friends: Snail mail or email


Now we call it “snail mail.” For those of us who were born in the slice of time after telephones and fax machines---and before email, IMs, and text messages---writing a letter was a common way to stay in touch with family and friends across the miles...


Friendship: All in the (sic) Jeans


How do we decide whom we choose as friends?

Findings from a new study at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Medicine, funded by the National Institutes of Health, suggests that our choice of friends may be genetic.

“As we grow and move out of our own home environment, our genetically influenced temperament becomes more and more important in influencing the kinds of friends we like to hang out with,” says Dr. Kendler. “The study shows how genetic and family environmental factors influence the ways in which we create our own social environment as we grow.”...


Retro Friends: A blast from the past


A recent article in the Toronto Globe and Mail notes the growing number of women who are rekindling friendships from the past. One explanation for the trend: Technology is making it easier to find that best friend from high school that you haven’t heard from for ages. You can Google her; search for her on a reunion site like or; or perhaps find her on one of the popular social networking sites like My Space or Facebook...


Six degrees: A friend of a friend

Psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a landmark experiment at Harvard University in the 1960s that looked at the “small world” phenomenon. Using snail mail correspondence, Milgram asked his study participants to forward an information packet about the study to the person they knew---who was mostly likely to know the person ultimately targeted to receive the correspondence...

College friendships: A case of easy come, easy go?


Everyone agrees that college campuses are fertile settings for the development of close relationships. Students live together, study together, and party together. With geographical proximity---and shared interests and experiences---it’s not surprising that many of the friendships that begin in college dorms and classrooms last a lifetime. But a recent study suggests that without nurturance, these relationships are at risk for falling apart...


Friendship: Making It Work


A recent article in USA Today posed the question about whether or not friendships in the workplace are good or bad. It simply isn’t that simple.

I just finished working on an article on workplace friendships for my monthly Mind Matters column in AAAS (I’ll let you know when it’s posted). Depending on the setting, the task at hand, the players, and their social and organizational roles in relation to each other, the outcomes can go either way. At their best, these friendships can enhance job satisfaction and productivity---but many times, they can diminish one, the other, or both...