I know the thought of an en-suite is tempting, but a recent study by Matthew Easterbrook and Vivian Vignoles has found that university students who shared a toilet formed stronger bonds.
The environment we live in can dramatically shape the way we live and the people we meet. In the 1950s, Festinger famously found that students who walked past each other’s doors on a regular basis formed stronger friendships. It makes sense that when we increase the chances of bumping into someone, we’re more likely to talk to them and therefore more likely to form a friendship.
Easterbrook and Vignoles set out to further study the influence of design features of shared accommodation on interpersonal bonds. 462 students from 13 halls of residence were asked to record the number of times they met other residents in their halls by chance in their first week at university. They found that the more residents met by chance, the stronger their interpersonal bonds were and led to greater feelings of wellbeing later on.
They next looked at the features of shared accommodation that increased the likelihood of meeting by chance. Unsurprisingly, it was found that the presence common social areas had a significant effect on the strength and number of friendships formed. However, the impact of these social areas was matched in impact by a lack of en-suite toilets! This meant that students were more likely to bump into one another when they needed to use the bathroom, sugesting that encounters, regardless of their form, are a way of strangers to interact, become comfortable with and form friendships which one another.
Despite these fidings, i’m still not 100% sure i’d like to share a toilet when I go to uni, i’ve heard the freshers horror stories and if anything I wonder if it might put strain on friendships!