Charts & Graphs

Friend Commandments

Relationship rules.

In a 1984 study, psychologists Michael Argyle and Monika Henderson asked a set of British subjects to rate a set of forty-three “friendship rules” on a scale from 1 to 9, with 1 being most important. Eighteen rules earned a mean score of 3 or below, indicating especially high importance.

Rank Rule Mean score
1 Should volunteer help in time of need* 1.4
2 Should address the other person by their first name 1.5
3 Should respect the other’s privacy* 1.6
4 Should not discuss that which is said in confidence with the other person 1.9
5 Should trust and confide in each other* 2.1
6 Should stand up for the other person in their absence 2.2
7 (tie) Should be emotionally supportive 2.3
7 (tie) Should not criticize each other in public 2.3
8 (tie) Should look the other person in the eye during conversation 2.4
8 (tie) Should not be jealous or critical of the other’s relationships* 2.4
8 (tie) Should not be jealous or critical of the other’s relationships* 2.4
8 (tie) Should strive to make the other happy while in their company 2.4
9 (tie) Should share news of success with the other person 2.5
9 (tie) Should be tolerant of each other’s friends 2.5
10 (tie) Should not criticize the other person publicly 2.7
10 (tie) Should not nag the other person 2.7
11 Should seek to repay debts, favors, or compliments, no matter how small 2.9
12 (tie) Should not indulge in sexual activity with the other person 3
12 (tie) Should look after the other person when they are ill 3

* Received scores indicating high importance when the authors repeated the survey with respondents from Italy, Japan, and Hong Kong.