What kind of a friend are you? Have you always had different friend groups? Or collections of solo friendships? Or one united wolfpack?

According to a 2016 study from Dartmouth University, most people’s friendships fall into one of those three categories. Jannice McCabe  is a researcher behind this study and she labels these categories tight-knitters, compartmentalizers and samplers. She gathered a focus group consisting of 67 students at Midwestern University and analyzed their tendency in friendship.

Tight-knitter – see friends as family

If you have had the same big group of friends since high school and you are all still connected in some way, you are probably a tight-knitter. According to McKay, tight-knitters are people who have cultivated a sense of belonging and might refer to their friends as a family or their home. In the study which involved college students, this type of friendship was revealed to be most common for minority students. They found social support in their close friend groups. Tight-knit friend groups have drawbacks, though. Such a strong bond leaves people liable to letting their buddies pull them down whether academically or in other ways. Tight-knitters were more exposed to negative effects their friends impose on them. Additionally, their behaviour was also hugely dictated by their surroundings.

Compartmentalizer – seek friends with similar background

If you have a group of hometown friends, some folks you met at university, your colleagues from your first job and fellows you share a common hobby with, then you sound like a compartmentalizer. People who tend towards this friendship category have friends connected within the social group, not across different circles: your friends from college don’t know your work friends, and your childhood buddies are not familiar with your teammates. Compartmentalizers often come from the middle class and don’t need as much social support as tight-knitters, according to the study. They are also prone to mix up with people coming from a similar background. Such people can hop between different clusters of friends to satisfy their needs which gives them a lot of benefits.

Sampler – one-on-one connections

If you have had one friend from your neighborhood, another from dorms, another from the first city you moved to after college, another from your office, then you are definitely a sampler. Samplers make one-on-one connections with different people from different places but none of them are clustered together. Since this makes for a less supportive social group, many samplers are more independent, have a greater focus on academics or career and typically are more family-oriented than their counterparts.

When McCabe further looked at the behaviour patterns of three groups within the classroom, she found out that tight-knitters turn to their friends when they seek emotional or academic support. Compartmentalizers enjoy the wide array of connections in case they need assistance in various tasks. Samplers often rely on themselves rather than on the outer collaboration.

Friendship can come in many forms but the most important thing is to put effort into maintaining and strengthening the bond we share with our friends.