What's the best predictor of who a teenager will become friends with? According to a new study, it's the classes he or she takes.
Researchers from Michigan State University found that teens are more likely to make friends with the people in their classes.
"People generally want to think that kids are choosing their friends from the well-known categories like jocks and nerds -- that it's like 'The Breakfast Club' and the same at every school," study researcher Kenneth Frank, a professor in the College of Education, said in a statement. "But our argument is that the opportunities an adolescent has to choose friends are guided by the courses the adolescent takes and the other students who take the courses with them. Moreover, the pattern of opportunities differs from school to school."
About 3,000 high school students from 78 different schools were surveyed for the study, which is published in the American Journal of Sociology. Researchers also applied a computer algorithm to look at courses, to find that friendships between students were more likely to be formed in small classes and electives (such as woodshed, versus a general freshman PE class).
In addition, researchers found that students were more likely to form bonds with other students who took the same set of classes as they did, regardless of their social status at the school, race or gender.