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College freshmen turn to empathic people in stressful times, Stanford study says

Stanford research shows college freshmen turn to one set of friends when they’re looking for a fun time but a different set when they need empathy. (Image credit: asiseeit / Getty Images)

Aug 30 2017

Posted In:

Faculty, In the News, Students

In an era of nearly boundless online “friend” networks, Stanford researchers found that students are able to distinguish those real-life friends who are most able to help them deal with stressful times.

Every fall, college freshmen begin the familiar tradition of establishing friendships with classmates in their dormitories.

But little do they realize how much choosing the right friends – notably ones with empathy – could be beneficial during stressful times, a new Stanford study says.

“The transition to college can be tumultuous,” said Jamil Zaki, an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford and co-author of the study. “Whom you end up making friendships with can play a significant role in how you’ll deal with the stress and hardship of freshman year.”