friends vs. family

*update below*

luke asks: “How important is friendship — between-non relatives that is — in highly inbred societies?”

good question.

there are two questions that relate to this on the world values survey (2005-2008 wave):

– For each of the following aspects, indicate how important it is in your life. Would you say it is: Family.
– For each of the following aspects, indicate how important it is in your life. Would you say it is: Friends.

i’m assuming that “friends” means non-relative friends to all of the respondents.

possible responses:

1 Very important
2 Rather important
3 Not very important
4 Not at all important

i looked at just those that responded “very important” to each question. i haven’t sorted any of the nations by ethnicity, so … you know … some nations (like the u.s.) are kinda mixed up ’cause they’re multi-ethnic.

here are the nations sorted by those who responded that family was the most important to them. all five father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marrying societies in this world values survey wave (in red) are above the global average, four of them towards the top. of my “core” nw europeans (in blue), the netherlands, germany, france, and norway are all below the global average. the anglo nations scored, for the most part, below the fbd nations, but above the global average. i’m surprised at how low china and hong kong score:

wvs - family very important

and here are the nations sorted by those who responded that friends were the most important to them. the “core” europeans are all above the global average, but so are jordan, iraq, and morocco. again china and hong kong score very low:

wvs - friends very important

finally, here’s the data sorted by the difference between the “family” responses and the “friends” responses (family responses minus friends responses). towards the top are the societies with the widest difference between how important they feel family is versus friends — so they, presumably, value family much more than friends. towards the bottom are the societies with the smallest difference between how important family and friends are. all of my “core” europeans are below the global average, most well below. great britain, the netherlands, norway, and sweden are in the lowest quarter of the table, showing how — comparatively speaking — there’s not a very great difference in how these populations view family and friends. three of the five fbd marriage societies are above the global average. hong kong scores surprisingly low — as does ethiopia! maybe i shouldn’t be so surprised at that:

wvs - family friends very important - difference

update 12/29: i took a look at the documentation of the values surveys for some of the countries for which i or someone else thought the results were kinda surprising (china, ethiopia, georgia, cyprus). here’s what i found:

– china: seems to be a pretty good quality survey. the researchers (from the Research Center for Contemporary China, Peking University) did conduct surveys in all regions of the country (i was concerned that maybe they only focused on beijing or something). two things that are a little concerning to me: 1) the sample size is 1,991. is that representative for a population of 1.3 billion? seems to me like it wouldn’t be, but what do i know about stats (not much)? 2) they interviewed more older people than younger people (aged 18-29). they figured that’s ’cause so many younger people are migrant workers and so just weren’t at “home” when these surveys were done. which is interesting given the results ’cause i would’ve thought that family would be more important to older generations in china than to younger ones, but perhaps not.

– ethiopia: there was a big problem with the ethiopia survey. i’ll just quote from the report [pg. 13]:

“Respondents (and interviewers) had IMMENSE difficulty interpreting scales with opposing statements on either side of a 10 point scale. They tended to give an answer of agreement or not for either statements separately rather than selecting a number to indicate their answer on the continuum between the two statements. A large amount of time had to be spent in each interview explaining (over and over again!) that a score below 5 indicated agreement in varying degrees of strength with the statement on the left, 5 and 6 meant a lack of agreement or neutral feeling towards both statements with a forced preference to one, and a score between 7 and 10 indicated varying degrees of agreement with the statement on the right. Attempts at utilising the ‘counting stones’ scale assistance technique AND attempts at adapted show card representations failed as respondents were too confused by the fact that there were two statements involved in each question.”

the friends and family answers were not on a ten point scale, but they were on a four point scale (very/rather/not very/not at all important). perhaps that confused the respondents as well?

also, the report says that the interviews were conducted in amharic. well, iwitbb** only 29% of the ethiopian population speaks amharic. hmmmmm.

**if wikipedia is to be believed.

– georgia: seems to be a pretty good quality survey, except — abkhazia and ossetia were NOT included (*sigh* — well, what can you do?) — neither were some regions that were occupied by the russians at the time (are they still?).

– cyprus: the respondents in cyprus comprised 550 greek cypriots and 500 turkish cypriots [pg. 24 of report]. however, iwitbb, ca. 80% of cypriots are greek while only ca. 18% of cypriots are turkish. having said that, i would’ve thought that the presence of so many turkish cypriots in the survey would’ve made the difference between the “family” vs. “friends” score higher. it would be interesting to know — which i don’t — the areas of turkey from which the ancestors of today’s turkish cypriots hailed.

(note: comments do not require an email. “I have no friends, only relations!”)