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Benefits Of Friendship

As part of their unconstrained and personalized interaction, friends benefit one another in innumerable ways. They listen, encourage, give advice, help with chores, loan money, have fun, exchange trivia, share confidences, and simply "are there" for one another. The specifics vary from time to time and from one friendship to another.

Several scholars have suggested ways of grouping these benefits into a manageable number of categories. Many researchers consider just two classes of rewards adequate for most purposes. These two classes are most often labeled as instrumental and expressive. Instrumental rewards involve receiving tangible resources such as goods or money, and obtaining assistance in completing tasks or reaching goals. Expressive rewards involve receiving emotional support, encouragement, and personal advice from an understanding confidant. Israeli psychologists Mario Mickulincer and Michal Selinger (2001) developed a somewhat different two-way classification, proposing that individuals pursue friendships to fulfill either affiliative (companionship) or attachment (socioemotional) needs.

Although such two-fold classifications are adequate for many purposes, people sometimes find it useful to consider more specific rewards that are (or are not) present in a friendship, or that are present in one friendship but not another. Some researchers have developed more detailed sets of rewards for exploring such nuances. Robert B. Hayes (1984), for example, formulated a list of four rewarding friendship behaviors: companionship (sharing activities or one another's company), consideration (helpfulness, utility, support), communication (discussing information about one's self, exchanging ideas and confidences), and affection (expressing sentiments felt toward one's partner).

In a similar vein, Paul H. Wright (1978, 1985) identified five interpersonal rewards or friendship values: these are utility (providing material resources or helping with tasks), stimulation (suggesting new ideas or activities), ego support (providing encouragement by downplaying setbacks and emphasizing successes), self-affirmation (behaving in ways that reinforce a friend's valued self-characteristics) and security (providing a feeling of safety and unquestioned trust).

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelationshipsFriendship - Definition And Characteristics, Benefits Of Friendship, Voluntariness And Contextual Factors In Friendship, Friendships Throughout Childhood