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Friendship: Development, Ecology, and Evolution of a Relationship

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 400
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Friends-they are generous and cooperative with each other in ways that appear to defy standard evolutionary expectations, frequently sacrificing for one another without concern for past behaviors or future consequences. In this fascinating multidisciplinary study, Daniel J. Hruschka synthesizes an array of cross-cultural, experimental, and ethnographic data to understand the broad meaning of friendship, how it develops, how it interfaces with kinship and romantic relationships, and how it differs from place to place. Hruschka argues that friendship is a special form of reciprocal altruism based not on tit-for-tat accounting or forward-looking rationality, but rather on mutual goodwill that is built up along the way in human relationships.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94788-7
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Boxes
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction: The Adaptive Significance of Friendship
    (pp. 1-16)

    In the late spring of 1876, nearly seventeen years after his first publication ofOn the Origin of Speciesand following decades of careful description of the natural world, Charles Darwin sat down to write a sketch of his life. He devoted only sixty pages to the topic, detailing his early encounters with the natural world, his compulsive beetle collecting, his lackluster attempt at earning a medical degree, and his five years of voyaging on H.M.S.Beagle. However, when Darwin described the circumstance that most influenced his intellectual career, he focused not on his encounters with books or the natural...

  7. 1 An Outline of Friendship
    (pp. 17-43)

    In the highlands of Papua New Guinea, a Wandeki man shouts this phrase as an old friend comes to visit. At first glance, the expression is startling, invoking gory images of cannibalism. Even in islands not far from New Guinea, the promise of eating someone’s body parts is a sign of anger and aggression. However, in the presence of a Wandeki friend, the phrase means something quite the opposite—unbridled affection and happiness at seeing a companion after a long separation. The greeting continues as the two men wrap their arms around each other and the visitor responds in kind,...

  8. 2 Friendships across Cultures
    (pp. 44-75)

    In 1848, the Russian priest Andrej Argentov moved with his wife and a maidservant to start a small church on Siberia’s arctic coast—to win the souls of nomadic Chukchee reindeer herders who lived in the region. During one of Argentov’s first forays into Chukchee territory, a herder named Ata’to asked him to establish a ritual friendship. At that time, Argentov probably did not know that a key obligation of such ritual bonds involved common sexual access to spouses in the union. Nevertheless, after a short time the Chukchee friend paid a visit to Argentov’s new home and claimed his...

  9. 3 Friendship and Kinship
    (pp. 76-104)

    In different places and times, the wordfriendand its linguistic relatives have displayed remarkable flexibility in meaning. In the quote above, an Irish villager usesfriendin two very different ways to explain his relationship with a biologically unrelated associate. By stating, “he’s more a friend,” the villager follows the standard, English sense of a non-kin relationship. Yet, in a feat of verbal acrobatics, he first usesfriendto mean a blood relative by declaring, “he’s no friend of mine.” This ambiguous usage offriendis not an isolated incident. More than eight hundred years ago, speakers of Old...

  10. 4 Sex, Romance, and Friendship
    (pp. 105-120)

    Intensely close relationships often inspire speculation about sex.¹ Consider the more than one hundred sonnets that Shakespeare devoted to a young man he named “fair youth.” In these sonnets, Shakespeare writes romantically of sweet love and how the youth’s beauty awakes and delights his heart. Although these verses lack the explicit sexual references of some of Shakespeare’s other poems, their passionate romantic language has spurred long-standing controversy about whether the poet was involved in a homosexual affair. Similar debates surround intensely emotional letters written by the poet Emily Dickinson to her friend and eventual sister-inlaw, Sue Gilbert. Between a man...

  11. 5 Friendship: Childhood to Adulthood
    (pp. 121-145)

    The road from first meeting to friendship is not always easy. Along the way, one must often deal with conflicting loyalties, cope with rejections and breakups, avoid exploitation, and figure out just what one’s friends expect of the friendship.¹ Overcoming these challenges requires a number of truly remarkable social skills. Among other things, one must be able to read others’ wishes, needs, and intentions, forgo immediate self-interest at appropriate times, negotiate interpersonal boundaries, and know when (and when not) to forgive. Given all of these requirements, it is not surprising that some adults never find making friends easy or natural.²...

  12. 6 The Development of Friendships
    (pp. 146-167)

    Think of your closest friends and how long you have known them. You may remember some from early childhood and others from high school or college. It is unlikely that you met any for the first tie yesterday. Now pick one of these friends and try to identify the precise moment in time when your friendship became close. For some friendships it may be possible to identify a turning point, such as an act of great magnanimity or a personally important bonding event. More frequently, when asked to specify the precise point at which a friendship became “close,” people stumble.¹...

  13. 7 Friendship, Culture, and Ecology
    (pp. 168-193)

    Although most people around the world agree that it is important to help friends, the passenger’s dilemma tests one’s commitment to the proposition. Does the unknown pedestrian have a right to truthful testimony? Is it immoral to lie under oath to protect a friend? Similar ethical dilemmas arise frequently in human societies, each with unique norms for dealing with them. Among Pashtun pastoralists in northern Pakistan, lying violates basic Koranic law, but there are times when one should lie to help a friend. Orokaiva gardeners in Papua New Guinea frown upon fighting, but it can be acceptable when a friend...

  14. 8 Playing with Friends
    (pp. 194-211)

    When Emerson wrote these lines, he was musing about what he called the paradox of friendship—that a good friend lives in a separate body but can also feel like a reflection of one’s own self. This is certainly one of the most intriguing qualities of close friends, but Emerson could have justified his claim of friendship’s masterpiece in several ways. Friendships are striking in their potential longevity. They can last decades, surpassing the lifespan of many living organisms. And in those societies where children formally inherit the friendships of their parents, such ties can even outlive their original hosts....

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 212-220)

    In this passage, Dr. Aziz expresses indignation at his English friend’s materialistic approach to relationships. According to Aziz, Fielding pays too much attention to theobservables—what is said and what is done—and not enough to what motivates people’s behaviors. Aziz’s reaction to Fielding’s materialism is shared by many who first come across economic and evolutionary theories of social exchange. Whether couched in terms of inputs, outputs, costs, benefits, or behaviors, these theories often posit that people make decisions based solely on the concrete, measurable outcomes in a relationship. Someone following a tit-for-tat strategy need know nothing of her...

  16. APPENDIX A: Ethnographic Data and Coding
    (pp. 221-232)
  17. APPENDIX B: Mathematical Models for Chapter 8
    (pp. 233-240)
  18. APPENDIX C: D-Statistics for Studies Cited
    (pp. 241-260)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 261-294)
  20. References
    (pp. 295-370)
  21. Index
    (pp. 371-383)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 384-384)