YouGov Friendship Study Part One: Close friends and broad group of friends

Milan DinicResearch Manager
December 16, 2021, 10:14 AM UTC

When it comes to interacting with friends, do Brits think they are…?

The YouGov Friendship Study reveals that half of Britons (50%) say they are introverted, with 9% saying they are ‘very introverted’. Four in ten Britons (42%) describe themselves as extroverts.

Young British women are most likely to describe themselves as extroverts – 45-49% of women between 16-39 say they are fairly or very extroverted, compared to 35-39% of men in the same age groups. Overall, more British men than women (53% vs 48%) describe themselves as introverts.

How many friends overall do people have?

Six in ten (58%) Britons say they have ten or fewer friends. A further 23% say they have between 11 and 25 friends and 6% say they have between 26 and 50 friends. Just 3% say they have over 50 friends.

How many close friends do people have?

One in eight (12%) Britons have just one person whom they consider to be a close friend. Four in ten (41%) Britons say they have two or three close friends, a further fifth (21%) have four or five, while 16% have more than six.

Seven percent of Britons say they do not have anyone who they could call a close friend, with this applying to both genders equally. The older people get, the more likely they are to say they don’t have a close friend: from 2% among 16-24-year-olds to 9% of Britons who are 40 or older.

Introverted Britons are more likely than extroverted Britons to have fewer good friends – 61% of those who describe themselves as introverted have up to 3 close friends, compared to 46% of those who describes themselves as extroverted. One in ten (10%) introverts say they don’t have any close friends, with this applying to just 3% of the extroverts.

Why do some Brits not have a close friend?

The 7% of Britons who say they have no close friends are split as to why - half say they have friends but none they consider close, while a quarter say they struggle to make close friends, and a further quarter say they fell out or lost touch with people with whom they used to be close.

Additionally, 16% say not having close friends is their choice, while one in nine (11%) say that their close friend(s) died.

Where did Britons meet their current close friends?

Work (44%) and school (41%) are the most popular origin points for Britons’ close friendships.

A quarter (27%) got to know their closest friends through other people, one in five (19%) met them in their neighbourhood and 16% met them through family. Six percent say they met their current closest friends through the internet.

Women are slightly likelier than men to have met their current closest friends through family (18% vs 14%) or work (46% vs 41%).

Older Britons are more likely than younger Britons to have met their closest friends through family - 22% of those over 60 made friends through family, compared to 12-14% of younger age groups. Younger generations are also less likely to have met close friends in their local area: just 5% among 16-24-year-olds, compared to 34% of those 60 or older.

Do Britons have someone, excluding family or a partner, whom they would call their 'best friend'?

Six in ten (63%) Britons say they have a ‘best friend’, but 19% are not confident that the best friend status is reciprocated, and 3% say they know the person they view as their best friend does not see them in the same way

Three in ten (28%) Britons say they do not have a ‘best friend’, with this being the case more for men (31%) than women (26%).

Among 16-24 year olds, 21% of men and 19% of women say they don’t have a best friend.

See full results here