How do you split a dinner bill with friends so as to optimize long term happiness?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Via Dan Ariely’s excellent book Predictably Irrational:

Although identifying and fighting the allure of free! is important in order to avoid traps while we are making decisions, there are also some cases in which we can use free! to our advantage. Take, for example, the common experience of going to a restaurant with friends. When the server drops off the check at the end of a meal, people often scramble to figure out the norms for payment. Do we each pay for what we ordered? Do we split the bill evenly, even if John had that extra glass of wine and the crème brûlée? free! can help us solve this problem, and in the process help us get more joy from dining out with our friends. The answer, as it turns out, is that one person should pay the entire bill, and that the people involved should take turns paying over time. Here is the logic: When we pay—regardless of the amount of money—we feel some psychological pain, which social scientists call the “pain of paying.” This is the unpleasantness associated with giving up our hard-earned cash, regardless of the circumstances. It turns out that the pain of paying has two interesting features. First, and most obviously, when we pay nothing (for example, when someone else foots the bill) we don’t feel any pain of paying. Second, and less obviously, the pain of paying is relatively insensitive to the amount that we pay. This means that we feel more pain of paying as the bill increases, but every additional dollar on the bill pains us less…So if we are dining with others, we are happiest when we pay nothing (free!); we are less happy when we have to pay something; and the additional dollars we fork over cause us a smaller and smaller additional amount of pain as the size of the bill increases. The logical conclusion is that one person should pay the whole bill…The general point is this: we all love getting our meals for nothing, and as long as we can alternate payers, we can enjoy many free! dinners and derive greater overall benefit from our friendships in the process…

What are the top reasons for Facebook un-friending?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Via Science Daily:

After surveying more than 1,500 Facebook users on Twitter, Sibona found the number-one reason for unfriending is frequent, unimportant posts.

“The 100th post about your favorite band is no longer interesting,” he said.

The second reason was posting about polarizing topics like religion and politics.

“They say not to talk about religion or politics at office parties and the same thing is true online,” he said.

Inappropriate posts, such as crude or racist comments, were the third reason for being unfriended.

The study showed 57 percent of those surveyed unfriended for online reasons, while 26.9 percent did so for offline behavior.

Sibona found a sort of online hierarchy of dominant and subordinate relationships. For example, those making friend requests stood a much higher chance of being abruptly unfriended.

At the same time, those doing the unfriending seemed to hold the upper hand in the relationship.

And:

An AOL study showed 30 percent of teenagers wanted to unfriend their own parents.

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Another way to improve your relationships:

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From Eurekalert:

Each student was asked to get a friend to participate in the study with them. Then each of the participants individually filled out an online survey. This included a list of “triggers”—descriptions of behaviors that someone might find annoying. One example was the word “skepticism” which was described as when someone is overly disbelieving of information that he/she receives, when he/she questions things that are generally accepted, or when he/she is very hard to convince of something. The list also included gullibility, social timidity, social boldness, perfectionism, obliviousness and several dozen other possible triggers. For each behavior, each respondent answered a question about how much this triggers them and how much it triggers their friend. Some people knew their friends’ triggers well; others had almost no idea what set their friends off. And that made a difference to the friendship. People who had more knowledge of their friend’s if-then profile of triggers had better relationships. They had less conflict with the friend and less frustration with the relationship. Other research has shown that it’s not that hard to come up with a list of traits that describe someone; casual acquaintances can do it. “But, if I’m close to someone, I can really start to learn the if-then profiles, and that’s what’s going to pay off in my relationship,” Friesen says.

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Does sharing negative attitudes of others promote feelings of familiarity?

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Holding similar negative—versus positive—attitudes toward a third party has been shown to predict increased closeness to a stranger. Here, the authors examined whether this effect is mediated by the heightened feelings of familiarity engendered by shared negative attitudes. In Study 1, participants who shared with a (bogus) stranger a negative attitude of a professor subsequently reported knowing more about the stranger than those who shared a positive attitude, but only when they did not feel strongly about the attitude. In Study 2, a familiarity manipulation produced high levels of closeness among participants who believed they had a lot of information about a stranger. Among those who believed they knew little about the stranger, closeness was facilitated by sharing a weakly held, negative attitude of a professor. Discussion considers the relevance of these findings to the interpersonal attraction literature.

Source: “I Feel Like I Know You: Sharing Negative Attitudes of Others Promotes Feelings of Familiarity” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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How many of your Facebook friends actually influence your behavior?

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The success of Internet social networking sites depends on the number and activity levels of their user members. Although users typically have numerous connections to other site members (i.e., “friends”), only a fraction of those so-called friends may actually influence a member’s site usage. Because the influence of potentially hundreds of friends needs to be evaluated for each user, inferring precisely who is influential—and, therefore, of managerial interest for advertising targeting and retention efforts—is difficult. The authors develop an approach to determine which users have significant effects on the activities of others using the longitudinal records of members’ log-in activity. They propose a nonstandard form of Bayesian shrinkage implemented in a Poisson regression. Instead of shrinking across panelists, strength is pooled across variables within the model for each user. The approach identifies the specific users who most influence others’ activity and does so considerably better than simpler alternatives. For the social networking site data, the authors find that, on average, approximately one-fifth of a user’s friends actually influence his or her activity level on the site.

Source: “Determining Influential Users in Internet Social Networks” from Journal of Marketing Research,Vol 47, Issue 4, Aug 2010, 643-658

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