Mind & Body

The Friendship Questionnaire Could Tell You How Caring of a Friend You May Be

The health benefits of having close friends go on and on: According to the Mayo Clinic, having friends can increase your sense of belonging and purpose, boost your happiness and reduce your stress, improve your self-confidence and self-worth, help you cope with trauma, and encourage healthy lifestyle habits. Being a good friend is, therefore, important for both you and the people you're closest to. Maybe that's a no-brainer, but we thought we'd remind you for good measure.

True Test of Friendship

So how do you determine if you're a good friend? Simon Baron-Cohen and Sally Wheelwright developed the Friendship Questionnaire (FQ): a 34-item self-report quiz. The same researchers that created the Empathy Quotient, Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright developed the FQ to test the theory that autism is an extreme form of the "male brain," which the researchers define as prioritizing competition and social rank over emotional depth and intimacy. The results of the 2003 study that introduced the questionnaire supported this theory, but don't let that turn you away. The quiz was developed for use with adults of normal intelligence.

The FQ presents 35 statements and questions with multiple response options for each. Statements include things like "If I had to pick, I would rather have a friend who: enjoys doing the same things as me, than a friend who feels the same way about life as I do; or, feels the same way about life as I do, than a friend who enjoys doing the same things as me."

The possible scoring range is 0 to 135. According to the questionnaire, the average respondent with Asperger's disorder scores around 45–50, and the average neurotypical respondent scores around 65. (Keep in mind the averages may not be completely accurate, seeing as this is a self-report questionnaire.) The questionnaire states that a "high score on the FQ is achieved by the respondent reporting that they enjoy close, empathic, supportive, caring friendships that are important to them; that they like and are interested in people; and that they enjoy interacting with others for its own sake."

Click here to take the FQ yourself. (Note: You will have to create a login on the site in order to complete the questionnaire, but it only takes a few seconds.)

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For a total 180 on all this cheery friendliness, check out Simon Baron-Cohen's book "The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty." If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Joanie Faletto January 25, 2018

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