The goal of this article is to propose a model, new to the field, describing cultural variations in close friendships. The model addresses shortcomings in past research regarding how close friendships differ in individualist compared to collectivist cultures. The model proposes three dimensions, with six overlapping but conceptually useful styles of friendship, Independents versus Interveners, Includers versus Excluders, and Idealists versus Realists. Succinct, simplified descriptors of each style follow: Independents respect each other’s autonomy, value spending quality time with friends, and support each other’s sense of self. Interveners are actively involved in their friends’ lives, reflecting the highly interdependent nature of their relationships. Includers behave in an open and friendly manner with nearly everyone they encounter, distinguishing between close friends and mere acquaintances in cognitive and emotional realms, but not in their outward behaviors. Excluders make clear distinctions between friends and acquaintances behaviorally as well as emotionally and cognitively. Idealists tend to exaggerate their ratings of close friends on anonymous questionnaires and avoid direct confrontations that might cause loss of face. Realist friends tend to rate each other in more nuanced, objective ways, and feel uninhibited about directly confronting friends when they feel that it might be for their friends’ ultimate benefit.
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