Homophily

July 5, 2013

in Change, Good Marriage, Seeing Clearly

While searching for a source to link to my recent mention of the “three degrees of influence” I came across a term that was new to me: “homophily”. It is from the Greek words for “same” and “love”, so it means love of the same. The term was coined in the 1950’s to label our tendency to befriend those who confirm rather than test our beliefs. The more common way of saying the same things would be “bird of a feather flock together”

Birds of a feather © Tom Curtis | freedigitalphotos.net

Homophily is a form of confirmation bias, meaning it tends to strengthen in our minds what we already believe to be true. We are drawn to those who agree with what we believe, which makes us surer we are right. It is basic human nature, but it is also a form of circular reasoning.

What does this have to do with marriage? Everything! We will tend to listen to and form friendships with those who agree with that we think about marriage and sexuality. This makes us feel good, but it does nothing to expose errors in what we think and do.

If you want to grow (in any area), you must challenge your preconceived ideas. Exposing yourself to those who think a bit differently can help you do that. Of course, there is a risk; you could expose yourself to something that is harmful or wrong. Be fast to consider other opinions and beliefs, but slow to adopt them as your own.

The best way to proceed is to find people living what you want to live, get to know them, and examine what they believe which differs from what you believe. By looking at the lives of people, you can decide if they have something to emulate. Want a better marriage? Spend time with those who clearly have great marriages. Want a better sex life? Hang with those who seem to be sexually  happy and healthy .

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Image Credit: © Tom Curtis | freedigitalphotos.net

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