Studies show college roommates pick up each other’s habits

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Manhart and Kealoha, courtesy of Hannah Koehler
Manhart and Kealoha, courtesy of Hannah Koehler

The person you live with throughout college can easily turn into your best friend or your worst enemy. College roommates are the people you spend most of your college career with, so it’s only natural that you’re going to pick up habits from one another. Your sleep, energy, diet and average happiness can all be heavily impacted by who you choose to live with. 

College Choice names this “the Roommate Effect” and says it can have a big impact on your future. According to Amondson, having a roommate with an increasing GPA can also increase your own. For every one-point increase your own can increase by .11 on average. Study habits can be spread without roommates even realizing it. 

Exercising and diets are also affected. Often you go grocery shopping or out to eat with your roommate, so if your roommate buys more sugary foods you will be tempted to buy the same. This also means if your roommate ventures to the gym more habitually you will feel encouraged and motivated to go with them. This is pretty cool because setting healthy lifestyles for yourself could rub off on your peers. 

Happiness levels are also spread. It’s pretty common for a smile to be shared, but living for a certain amount of time with someone can actually cause you to mimic their expressions. This mostly applies to couples – but honestly I probably spend more time with my roommate than with a significant other – so this applies to both.

Zajonc suggested that older couples looked more alike because people in close contact mimic each other’s facial expressions. In other words, if your partner has a good sense of humor and laughs a lot, he or she will probably develop laugh lines around their mouth — and so will you.”

I decided to put these theories to the test by interviewing some roomies on campus. Sophomore communication major Kolbee (Koko) Kealoha and sophomore biochemistry major Aly Manhart have been roommates since last year and have gotten closer and closer the more time they spend together. They agreed that they definitely picked up similar habits. 

 “We definitely pick up on each others lingo,” Kealoha said. “We literally read each other’s minds. We’ll be walking sometimes or just sitting and we’ll say the same thing at the same time and just look at each other and go like wait what?” 

Manhart and Kealoha were teammates before they were roommates, but since living together they have exchanged habits such as calling the fridge an icebox, which is something Kealoha did and Manhart does now, or eating guacamole, which is something Kealoha didn’t like but now does because Manhart always has it. They also push each other to do better in classes and life. 

“Aly has had a lot harder classes this semester, and she’ll be studying and remind me to study more,” Kealoha said. “Or we’ll both make each other put our phones down and get off them and take 45 minutes to do homework without any distractions or talking.” 

Since Manhart and Kealoha have healthy college habits they can help each other grow. Your habits are something to be super conscious about since you can actually affect the mood, habits and overall growth of your roommate. The saying “good habits rub off on others” truly applies here, so go out and smile, study and enjoy your college life – so that your roommate can too.

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