Sort of. You’re obviously not the same exact person you were in college. That Fear and Loathing poster no longer hangs above your bed and your Saturdays no longer begin with kegs and eggs. But, your social and relationship tendencies probably haven’t changed: A new study from the University of Rochester indicates a link between social habits during young-adulthood and those during middle age.
For the study, psychologist Cheryl Carmichael followed up with 133 people who participated in a social interactions study in the 1970s. They’d chronicled their daily social exchanges in journals first as 20-year-old college students and then again as 30-year-olds. Per instructions, participants rated social exchanges according to how intimate, pleasant and satisfying they were. The logged exchanges needed to be at least 10 minutes in length.
Then, 20 years after participants tracked their social habits for the second time, Carmichael reached out to the now-50-year-olds, asking them to fill out surveys about their social lives and emotional health.
In comparing the decades-old diary entries and follow-up surveys, Carmichael saw a connection between the types of social interactions and relationships participants had at 20-years-old and their current emotional well-being.
In the release, Carmichael said:
“Considering everything else that goes on in life over those 30 years — marriage, raising a family and building a career — it is extraordinary that there appears to be a relationship between the kinds of interactions college students and young adults have and their emotional health later in life.”
And, as a growing body of research shows, people who form and maintain real-life relationships lead healthier, longer lives. In this era of increasing digital communication and decreasing face-to-face interactions, we’ve seen a spike in studies on social connectivity and the epidemic of loneliness, which experts have presented as both a societal scourge and a disease in itself.
So, try not to regret the nights you chose parties over chem labs. Social tendencies stick with you, and, as healthy habits go, hanging out with other humans might be the most enjoyable around.