AskDefine | Define gregariousness

Dictionary Definition

gregariousness n : the quality of being gregarious--having a dislike of being alone

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  1. The state of being gregarious

Extensive Definition

For other uses, see Friendship (disambiguation) and Friends (disambiguation).
Friendship is a term used to denote co-operative and supportive behavior between two or more humans. This article focuses on the notion specific to interpersonal relationships. In this sense, the term connotes a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, and affection along with a degree of rendering service to friends in times of need or crisis. Friends will welcome each other's company and exhibit loyalty towards each other, often to the point of altruism. Their tastes will usually be similar and may converge, and they will share enjoyable activities. They will also engage in mutually helping behavior, such as exchange of advice and the sharing of hardship. A friend is someone who may often demonstrate reciprocating and reflective behaviors. Yet for many, friendship is nothing more than the trust that someone or something will not harm them. Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis: In a comparison of personal relationships, friendship is considered to be closer than association, although there is a range of degrees of intimacy in both friendships and associations. Friendship and association can be thought of as spanning across the same continuum. The study of friendship is included in sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and zoology. Various theories of friendship have been proposed, among which are social psychology, social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles. See Interpersonal relationships
Friendship is considered one of the central human experiences, and has been sanctified by all major religions. The Epic of Gilgamesh, a Babylonian poem that is among the earliest known literary works in history, chronicles in great depth the friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The Greco-Roman had, as a paramount example, the friendship of Orestes and Pylades. The Abrahamic faiths have the story of David and Jonathan. Friendship played an important role in German Romanticism. A good example for this is Schiller's Die Bürgschaft. The Christian Gospels state that Jesus Christ declared, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."(John 15:13).
In philosophy, Aristotle is known for his discussion (in the Nicomachean Ethics) of philia, which is usually (somewhat misleadingly) translated as "friendship," and certainly includes friendship, though is a much broader concept.
Cultural variations: (stub-section) A group of friends consists of two or more people who are in a mutually pleasing relationship engendering a sentiment of camaraderie, exclusivity, and mutual trust. There are varying degrees of "closeness" between friends. Hence, some people choose to differentiate and categorize friendships based on this sentiment.


In Ancient Greece, in Plato's Symposium, a character named Pausanius asserts: "the interests of rulers require that their subjects should be poor in spirit, and that there should be no strong bond of friendship or society among them, which love, above all other motives, is likely to inspire, as our Athenian tyrants learned by experience; for the love of Aristogeiton and the constancy of Harmodius had a strength which undid their power." (Symposium; 182c). The overall tone of The Symposium stresses the importance of asceticism and spiritual love over lust. Critics have long had difficulty interpreting the various opinions outlined in The Symposium, and generally agree that Plato's view is prescriptive rather than descriptive. Nevertheless, the speech of Pausanius provides evidence for pederasty in 5th century Athens.
For Aristotle's position, see Philia.


During the time of the Roman Empire, Cicero had his own beliefs on friendship. Cicero believed that in order to have a true friendship with someone there must be all honesty and truth. If there isn’t, then this isn’t a true friendship. In that case, friends must be one hundred percent honest with each other and put one hundred percent of their trust in the other person. Cicero also believed that for people to be friends with another person, they must do things without the expectation that their friend will have to repay them. He also believes that if a friend is about to do something wrong, and something that goes against your morals, you shouldn’t compromise your morals. You must explain why what they are going to do is wrong, and help them to see what the right thing to do is, because Cicero believes that ignorance is the cause of evil. Finally the last thing that Cicero believed was that the reason that a friendship comes to an end is because one person in that friendship has become bad. (On Friendship, Cicero)


The relationship is constructed differently in different cultures. In Russia, for example, one typically accords very few people the status of "friend". These friendships however make up in intensity what they lack in number. Friends are entitled to call each other by their first names alone, and to use diminutives. A norm of polite behaviour is addressing "acquaintances" by full first name plus patronymic. These could include relationships which elsewhere would be qualified as real friendships, such as workplace relationships of long standing, neighbors with whom one shares an occasional meal and visit, and so on. Physical contact between friends is expected, and friends, whether or not of the same sex, will embrace, sometimes kiss and walk in public with their arms around each other, or arm-in-arm, or hand-in-hand.
According to Oleg Kharkhordin in a paper on the politics of friendship, in Soviet society, friendships were "a suspect value for the Stalinist regime" in that they presented a stronger allegiance that could stand in possible opposition to allegiance to the Communist party. "By definition, a friend was an individual who would not let you down even under direct menace to him- or herself; a person to whom one could securely entrust one's controversial thoughts since he or she would never betray them, even under pressure. Friendship thus in a sense became an ultimate value produced in resistance struggles in the Soviet Union".


In the Middle East and Central Asia male friendships, while less restricted than in Russia, tend also to be reserved and respectable in nature.

Modern west

In the Western world, intimate physical contact has been sexualized in the public mind over the last one hundred years and is considered almost taboo in friendship, especially between two males. However, stylized hugging or kissing may be considered acceptable, depending on the context (see, for example, the kiss the tramp gives the kid in The Kid). In Spain and other Mediterranean countries men may embrace each other in public and kiss each other on the cheek. This is not limited solely to older generations but rather is present throughout all generations. In young children throughout the modern western world, friendship, usually of a homosocial nature, typically exhibits elements of a closeness and intimacy suppressed later in life in order to conform to societal standards.

Decline of close friendships

The number and quality of friendships for the average American has been declining since at least 1985, according to a 2006 study. The study states that 25% of Americans have no close confidants, and that the average total number of confidants per person has dropped to 2.
In recent times, some thinkers have postulated that modern friendships have lost the force and importance that they had in antiquity. C. S. Lewis for example, in his The Four Loves, writes:
"To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it. We admit of course that besides a wife and family a man needs a few 'friends'. But the very tone of the admission, and the sort of acquaintanceships which those who make it would describe as 'friendships', show clearly that what they are talking about has very little to do with that Philia which Aristotle classified among the virtues or that Amicitia on which Cicero wrote a book."
Likewise, Paul Halsall claims that:
"The intense emotional and affective relationships described in the past as "non-sexual" cannot be said to exist today: modern heterosexual men can be buddies, but unless drunk they cannot touch each other, or regularly sleep together. They cannot affirm that an emotional affective relationship with another man is the centrally important relationship in their lives. It is not going too far, is it, to claim that friendship – if used to translate Greek philia or Latin amicitia – hardly exists among heterosexual men in modern Western society."
Mark McLelland, writing under his Buddhist name of Dharmachari Jñanavira (Article), more directly points to homophobia being at the root of a modern decline in the western tradition of friendship:
"Hence, in our cultural context where homosexual desire has for centuries been considered sinful, unnatural and a great evil, the experience of homoerotic desire can be very traumatic for some individuals and severely limit the potential for same-sex friendship. The Danish sociologist Henning Bech, for instance, writes of the anxiety which often accompanies developing intimacy between male friends:
"'The more one has to assure oneself that one's relationship with another man is not homosexual, the more conscious one becomes that it might be, and the more necessary it becomes to protect oneself against it. The result is that friendship gradually becomes impossible.'"
Their opinion that fear of being, or being seen as, homosexual has killed off western man's ability to form close friendships with other men is shared by Japanese psychologist Doi Takeo, who claims that male friendships in American society are fraught with homosexual anxiety and thus homophobia is a limiting factor stopping men from establishing deep friendships with other men.
The suggestion that friendship contains an ineluctable element of erotic desire is not new, but has been advanced by students of friendship ever since the time of the ancient Greeks, where it comes up in the writings of Plato. More recently, the Austrian philosopher Otto Weininger claimed that:
"There is no friendship between men that has not an element of sexuality in it, however little accentuated it may be in the nature of the friendship, and however painful the idea of the sexual element would be. But it is enough to remember that there can be no friendship unless there has been some attraction to draw the men together. Much of the affection, protection, and nepotism between men is due to the presence of unsuspected sexual compatibility." (Sex and Character, 1903)
Recent western scholarship in gender theory and feminism concurs, as reflected in the writings of Eve Sedgwick in her The Epistemology of the Closet, and Jonathan Dollimore in his Sexual Dissidence and Cultural Change: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault.

Developmental issues

In the sequence of the emotional development of the individual, friendships come after parental bonding and before the pair bonding engaged in at the approach of maturity. In the intervening period between the end of early childhood and the onset of full adulthood, friendships are often the most important relationships in the emotional life of the adolescent, and are often more intense than relationships later in life. However making friends seems to trouble lots of people; having no friends can be emotionally damaging in some cases. Sometimes going years without a single friend can lead to suicide.
A study by researches from Purdue University found that post secondary education (e.g. university) friendships last longer than the friendships before it.

Non-personal friendships

Although the term initially described relations between individuals, it is at times used for political purposes to describe relations between states or peoples ("the Franco-German friendship", for example), indicating in this case an affinity or mutuality of purpose between the two nations.
Regarding this aspect of international relations, Lord Palmerston said: "Nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. Only permanent interests."
The word "friendship" can be used in political speeches as an emotive modifier. Friendship in international relationships often refers to the quality of historical, existing, or anticipated bilateral relationships.

Interspecies friendship and animal friendship

Friendship as a type of interpersonal relationship is found also among animals with high intelligence, such as the higher mammals and some birds. Cross-species friendships are common between humans and domestic animals. Less common but noteworthy are friendships between an animal and another animal of a different species, such as a dog and cat.
See also: ethology, altruism in animals, sociobiology

Friendship contrasted with comradeship

Friendship can be mistaken for comradeship. Comradeship is the feeling of affinity that draws people together in time of war or when people have a mutual enemy or even a common goal. Former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges wrote: "We feel in wartime comradeship. We confuse this with friendship, with love. There are those, who will insist that the comradeship of war is love — the exotic glow that makes us in war feel as one people, one entity, is real, but this is part of war's intoxication. As this feeling dissipated in the weeks after the attack, there was a kind of nostalgia for its warm glow and wartime always brings with it this comradeship, which is the opposite of friendship. Friends are predetermined; friendship takes place between men and women who possess an intellectual and emotional affinity for each other. But comradeship – that ecstatic bliss that comes with belonging to the crowd in wartime – is within our reach. We can all have comrades." As a war ends, or a common enemy recedes, comrades return to being strangers, who lack friendship and have little in common.


  • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
  • Cicero, "On Friendship"
  • David Hein, "Farrer on Friendship, Sainthood, and the Will of God" (in Captured by the Crucified: The Practical Theology of Austin Farrer, edited by David Hein and Edward Hugh Henderson. New York and London: Continuum/T. & T. Clark, 2004. 119–48)
  • John von Heyking and Richard Avramenko (eds.), Friendship and Politics: Essays in Political Thought. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008.
gregariousness in Arabic: صداقة
gregariousness in Guarani: Joayhu
gregariousness in Bulgarian: Приятелство
gregariousness in Catalan: Amistat
gregariousness in Czech: Přátelství
gregariousness in Danish: Venskab
gregariousness in German: Freundschaft
gregariousness in Estonian: Sõprus
gregariousness in Spanish: Amistad
gregariousness in Esperanto: Amikeco
gregariousness in Basque: Adiskidetasun
gregariousness in Persian: دوستی
gregariousness in French: Amitié
gregariousness in Classical Chinese: 朋友
gregariousness in Korean: 우정
gregariousness in Indonesian: Persahabatan
gregariousness in Italian: Amicizia
gregariousness in Kazakh: Достық
gregariousness in Lithuanian: Draugystė
gregariousness in Dutch: Vriendschap
gregariousness in Japanese: 友情
gregariousness in Norwegian: Vennskap
gregariousness in Polish: Przyjaźń (uczucie)
gregariousness in Portuguese: Amizade
gregariousness in Russian: Дружба
gregariousness in Simple English: Friend
gregariousness in Slovak: Priateľ
gregariousness in Finnish: Ystävyys
gregariousness in Swedish: Vänskap
gregariousness in Tamil: நட்பு
gregariousness in Telugu: మిత్రుడు
gregariousness in Vietnamese: Tình bạn
gregariousness in Tajik: Дӯст
gregariousness in Ukrainian: Дружба
gregariousness in Yiddish: פריינטשאפט
gregariousness in Chinese: 友情
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