Behavior: The Price of Friendship

Friendship has so fascinated writers that Bartlett's Familiar Quotations carries 311 entries on the subject, against 24 for sex. Yet, curiously, it has been largely ignored by social scientists in favor of other human attachments: the sexual union, the family, the group. "This may be a serious mistake," writes University of Leicester Psychologist Derek Wright, 43, in Britain's New Society magazine. "Friendship forms the unobtrusive backcloth on which we play out our professional, sexual and familial lives."

Friendship is not a variation on any other human bond, says Wright. It is a uniquely symmetrical relation between two people that serves no economic,...

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