The Role of Friendship in Psychological Adjustment

The Role of Friendship in Psychological Adjustment

The Role of Friendship in Psychological Adjustment

The Role of Friendship in Psychological Adjustment

Synopsis

This issue examines the specific role children's experience of friendship plays in their psychological adjustment, and shedding light on the neglected area of peer relations research. The authors discuss the theory and empirical work connecting friendship and adjustment that provides a firm foundation for peer relations research. The authors present the results of an eighteen-year study addressing the question of whether acceptance and friendship are unique or redundant predictors of adult adjustment and well-being. They address the peer relationship difficulties experienced by children suffering from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; and they examine the potential iatrogenic consequences in the treatment of groups targeting antisocial youth. This volume also offers an informative and provocative essay tracing the conceptual and historical foundations of research and discussing the recent rise of interest in the peer system. This is the 91st issue of the Jossey-Bass series New Directions for Child and Adolescent Developmnet.

Excerpt

Children's friendship experiences are a unique aspect
of peer relations with important implications for
psychological adjustment.

The premise that children's peer relationships contribute to their psychological adjustment is widely accepted. As noted by Bukowski and Hoza (1989), however, the relative contributions of particular components of peer relations to adjustment are poorly understood. For instance, although numerous studies have demonstrated associations between peer acceptance and psychological adjustment (for reviews see Kupersmidt, Coie, and Dodge, 1990; Parker and Asher, 1987), relatively few studies have examined associations between friendship and adjustment. Making a distinction between peer acceptance and friendship is important because group and dyadic interactions represent unique realms of social experience. Specifically, peer acceptance, or popularity, refers to the degree to which a child is liked or accepted by the peer group. As such, peer acceptance is a unilateral construct, representing the view of the group toward an individual. In contrast, friendship involves having a close, mutual, dyadic relationship. Friendship is a bilateral construct in that it takes place between two individuals who have reciprocated positive feelings for one another (Bukowski and Hoza, 1989). In fact, various theorists have asserted that the deep structure of a friendship (that is, the social meaning or essence of the relationship) is reciprocity (Bukowski and Hoza, 1989; Hartup, 1996; Hartup and Stevens, 1997).

Although the constructs of peer acceptance and friendship are conceptually distinct, some degree of overlap is expected. For instance, many of . . .

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