Friendships may be defined as voluntary, reciprocal, egalitarian relationships in which both partners acknowledge the relationship and treat each other as equals. Although the nature of friendship does change across the life span (e.g., from a relationship based on companionship and play in early childhood to one focused on intimacy in older ages), many individuals of all ages and societies have at least one person whom they consider a friend. The benefits of having at least one friend and the costs or risks of not having a friend or having difficulties with friends are also evident at all periods of development and in all cultures. This entry defines the phenomenon of friendship, discusses past and recent theory and scholarship on the benefits of friendship across ...

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