A recent CBS News poll shows that when most Americans think about who their closest friend is, they think of someone who’s been in their lives for awhile. Nearly a third say they have known their closest friend for 10 to 25 years, just over a quarter have known that person between 25 and 50 years, and another 1 in 10 have known their closest friend for 50 years or more. But for some Americans, their closest friendship was formed more recently: 29% say they have known their closest friend for less than 10 years, including 11% who have known that person for five years or less.
Not surprisingly, it’s younger adults who have forged these friendships more recently, while older Americans have known their closest friends longer. Most seniors 65 and older have known their closest friend at least 25 years, and more than a third have known that person at least 50 years. Still, about 1 in 10 Americans over 65 formed their closest friendship within the past 10 years.
But when most Americans think about the person they’re closest to, their thoughts turn to family. Sixty-seven percent say the person they feel closest to is a family member, while just 31% say it’s a friend.
This poll was conducted by telephone March 9-14, 2021 among a random sample of 1,004 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Glen Mills, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard landline and cell phones.
The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.
Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.