Needs in a Friendship: Utility, Affirmation, Ego Support, Stimulation & Security

Needs in a Friendship: Utility, Affirmation, Ego Support, Stimulation & Security
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  • 0:01 Friendship
  • 0:41 Utility & Stimulation
  • 2:17 Affirmation, Support &…
  • 3:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Why do you have friends? What do you get out of your friendships? In this lesson, we'll examine friendships and the five major types of benefits to friendship, including utility, stimulation, affirmation, ego support, and security.


Olive and Sara are good friends. They've known each other for a very long time, and support each other through thick and thin. When Olive went through a break-up last year, she knew Sara would be there for her, and Sara was.

Friendship comes in many forms, and it offers many benefits. Some friends, like Olive and Sara, are very close and always have each other's backs. Other friendships are based on mutual interests or on work relationships. Let's look closer at the five main needs in friendship: utility, affirmation, stimulation, support, and security.

Utility & Simulation

Even though Sara is Olive's closest friend, she's not Olive's only friend, and Olive has noticed that she tends to receive different things from her varied friendships. For example, Olive has a friend at work, Max, who is a few years older than she is. Max has been at his job for longer, and is always giving Olive advice about work. Last year, when Olive needed to learn a new skill, Max was the one who stepped in to teach her.

The first need in friendship is utility, which is when a person with special skills helps his or her friend. A good example of this is mentorship at work, like how Max helps Olive grow in her job.

Growing in her job is important to Olive, and she's thankful for Max's friendship because it helps her. But it's also important for her to grow as a person outside of work, and Sara helps Olive with that. For example, last year Sara suggested to Olive that they start a book club so that they could read and discuss books more. Olive feels like she's learned a lot from the book club.

Another need in friendship is stimulation, which occurs when the friendship introduces a person to new ideas and experiences. Sara's friendship caused Olive to join the book club, which opened her up to new things. Likewise, Olive convinced Sara to visit every vegan restaurant in their city, which was a new experience for Sara. In this way, their friendship is leading them both to offer stimulation to each other.

Affirmation, Support, & Security

As we've seen, friendships can benefit the people involved, through offering them skills, help, and new ideas and experiences. But friendship is often about more than just expanding the experiences and skills of the friends.

Many friendships include affirmation, wherein the friends recognize the positive attributes of each other. For example, Sara is a very beautiful woman, and because of that, many people assume that she's pretty dumb. But Olive knows Sara and is able to see that she's actually very smart. By reminding Sara that she's more than just a pretty face, Olive is providing affirmation to Sara.

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