Companions or peers with whom one has common interests, emotional bonds, and social relationships.
Research has shown that people who have friends tend to have better physical health and report a better sense of psychological well-being than those with weak or no network of friends. Although some people may know a lot of people, they have a more select group of friends and an even smaller number of "best" friends.
Friends provide support in three main ways: emotional, cognitive guidance, and tangible help. Friends give each other emotional support by demonstrating care and affection. They also provide guidance during times of decision-making. Friends give help by meeting practical needs, such as loaning a car, cooking a meal, or taking care of a dog while a friend's on vacation. Psychologists have hypothesized that friends are actually coping mechanisms; by providing companionship and resources, friends alleviate stress in a person's life.
There are cultural differences in the way friends are viewed across the world. In cultures that value familial network, such as the Asian culture, the function and role of a friend are often found within the family structure, and friendships are not given the same weight of importance as in another culture. There are also varying definitions as to what constitutes a friend. Someone might call another person "friend" because they have mutual interests and activities, while another person considers a friend someone he shares similar attitudes, values, and beliefs.