It is in human nature to always wanting to climb the levels. Be it of social circle, friendships, or income, we as humans always look to engage with someone who is on upper (or similar) level as compared to as in various aspects of life.

It also seem appropriate for people gravitating toward others of a similar socioeconomic background when building their social circles. The common frames of reference, shared experiences, and comfortable familiarity that come with class homogeneity can make friendship formation feel more natural.

But the reality is not that straightforward. It would be an ignorance to say that socioeconomic status does not play a role in shaping many friendship patterns. It certainly does!

However, it does not have to be a determinative factor. In fact, there are several reasons why people are able to (and should proactively) build deep, lasting friendships that transcend class boundaries.

Lets come across various reasons why people shouldn’t feel ashamed or ignore a friendship of people from lower strata.

Shared Humanity

At the end of the day, people from all walks of life are united by our common hopes, values, and the universal human need for belonging and companionship. This fundamental truth is rooted in our shared evolutionary history and psychological makeup as a social species.

The above phenomena is explained in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a widely recognized theory in psychology, that after meeting our basic physiological and safety requirements, the need for love, belonging, and social connection becomes a driving force in human motivation and wellbeing. Regardless of our socioeconomic status, we all have an innate desire to form meaningful bonds and feel accepted by others, be it from a high or middle class background.

This universal longing for connection speaks to the core of our shared humanity. At the most fundamental level, we are all equal in our deepest emotional needs and aspirations – the wish to be understood, supported, and to find our place within a larger social fabric. These are the common threads that can bind people together across class divides, allowing them to transcend the superficial markers of status and wealth.

We, humans are inherently social creatures, and are hardwired through evolution to forge bonds with as many people as we can. The drive to belong, to feel accepted and cared for by others, is a profoundly motivating force that exists within each of us regardless of our economic backgrounds. It is this innate capacity for empathy, compassion and a sense of shared destiny that enables the formation of deep, lasting cross-class friendships.

Common Interests Trump Class Divides

People are drawn to others who share their passions, values, and life experiences – not just their bank balances. Whether it’s a shared love of the outdoors, a commitment to social justice, or an obsession with the latest TV show, these types of personal affinities can bring together individuals from vastly different backgrounds.

The idea that similarity breeds attraction—the similarity-attraction effect—is nearly a truism in social psychology. Countless studies have documented that people are attracted to those who are similar to them (Byrne, 1997; Montoya et al., 2008; Montoya & Horton, 2013).

Homophily, a well-established principle in social network theory, suggests that individuals tend to form connections with those who are similar to them. While this is often observed along the lines of class, race, age and other demographic factors, it also applies to shared interests and activities. People are naturally inclined to gravitate towards those who they perceive as kindred spirits, regardless of their economic status.

Altruism and Generosity

Altruism refers to selfless concern for the well-being of others, often motivated by a desire to alleviate their suffering or improve their circumstances.

We have various examples of personalities from higher socioeconomic classes may engage in prosocial behavior, such as building friendships with those from lower-income backgrounds, out of genuine altruistic motives to make a positive impact in the lives of others.

For individuals from privileged backgrounds, recognizing and embodying this altruistic and personal dimension of friendship can be a profound motivator for building meaningful connections across class divides. The desire to cultivate a genuine concern for the other person’s wellbeing, and to act to foster their good, simply because they have chosen to make that person their friend, requires looking past surface-level status markers.

In essence, while socioeconomic status may influence friendship dynamics, it is not the sole driver of social connections. Cultural nuances and unique social environments further modulate its impact. Additionally, a myriad of personal attributes and contextual factors contribute to the complex weave of friendship formation.

References Used

Byrne, D. (1997). An overview (and underview) of research and theory within the attraction paradigm. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14(3), 417–431.

Montoya, R. M., Horton, R. S., & Kirchner, J. (2008). Is actual similarity necessary for attraction? A meta-analysis of actual and perceived similarity. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 25(6), 889–922.

Montoya, R. M., & Horton, R. S. (2013). A meta-analytic investigation of the processes underlying the similarity-attraction effect. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30(1), 64–94.

Blum, L. A. (1980). Friendship, Altruism and Morality (Routledge Revivals) (1st ed.). London: Routledge.