10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Friendship

Friendship is an essential part of human life. It shapes our:

  • well-being
  • mental health
  • overall happiness

The psychology of friendship delves into understanding the dynamics, benefits, and challenges of these relationships. For those pursuing an online psychology degree, grasping the intricate details of friendship can be both fascinating and crucial for a future career in psychology. Here are 10 things to know about the psychology of friendship, relevant and interesting for both academic and personal growth.

Understanding the definition and evolution of friendship.

psychology of friendship

The psychology of friendship explores how friendships form and evolve over time. Early researchers like Aristotle considered friendship a vital component of a fulfilling life. More modern studies, such as those by Robert Hays, outline stages of friendship development from initiation to maintenance and termination. Understanding these stages is crucial in courses like Social Psychology and Developmental Psychology, which psychology majors will certainly be signing up for. 

Friendships provide social support. 

psychology of friendship

Friendships provide significant social support, which can mitigate stress and enhance emotional well-being. Research by Cohen and Wills from 1985 highlighted the impressive effect of social support against stress. Courses like Health Psychology often cover these findings. This emphasizes the importance of social connections in maintaining mental health!

Similarity has a big impact on friends. 

psychology of friendship

One of the core principles in the psychology of friendship is the similarity-attraction hypothesis. You’ve likely noticed that you and your friends share common:

  • interests
  • values
  • backgrounds

This is not a coincidence! Studies by Theodore Newcomb have demonstrated how similarity fosters friendships. Understanding this concept is vital in courses like Cognitive Psychology and Social Psychology, which psych students will be required to take.

Social networks influence friendships. 

psychology of friendship

Social networks or circles play a big role in not only the formation, but also the maintenance of friendships. Researchers like Christakis and Fowler have shown how social networks influence behaviors and emotions. This topic is often explored in courses related to Network Theory and Social Psychology, focusing on the interconnectedness of human relationships.

Emotional intelligence is important in friendships. 

psychology of friendship

Emotional intelligence, often referred to as EI in the psychology world, is key to forming and sustaining friendships. Daniel Goleman’s work on EI shares its importance in recognizing, understanding, and managing our own emotions and those of others. Courses on Emotional Intelligence and Interpersonal Skills often dissect this concept.

Communication plays a large role between friends.

psychology of friendship

The best friendships are the ones with open and honest communication. This is because effective communication is fundamental in the psychology of friendship. Research by John Gottman and colleagues has shown that positive communication patterns predict long-term relationship success. Communication courses in psychology programs teach skills crucial for maintaining healthy friendships.

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Friendship has a large impact on health.

psychology of friendship

Did you know that friendships have a profound impact on physical and mental health? If you have incredible friends, you probably did know this. Studies by Holt-Lunstad from 2010 revealed that strong social relationships improve longevity and reduce the risk of mortality. Health Psychology courses often examine these findings, highlighting the health benefits of social connections.

There are challenges to maintaining friendships.

psychology of friendship

Most adults understand that maintaining friendships can be challenging, especially with life changes and increased responsibilities. Research by Rebecca Adams and Graham Allan discusses how adult friendships can be affected by:

  • work
  • family
  • geographic mobility

Courses on Lifespan Development explore these challenges. The courses offer insights into maintaining friendships through different life stages.

Technology has pros and cons within friendships.

psychology of friendship

While we all know technology has it’s pros and cons, have you ever considered it’s role in friendships? Technology has actually transformed how we form and maintain friendships. Studies by Robert Kraut and colleagues have shown both positive and negative effects of online interactions on friendships. Understanding these dynamics is crucial in courses like Cyberpsychology and Media Psychology, which explore the connection between technology and human behavior.

The future is vast for friendship research.

psychology of friendship

The research opportunities are endless! The psychology of friendship is an evolving field with ongoing research exploring new dimensions of social relationships. Emerging areas like virtual reality and artificial intelligence in social interactions offer exciting ideas for future studies. Advanced courses and research opportunities in psychology programs often focus on these cutting-edge developments, preparing students for future careers in academia or applied psychology.

Understanding the psychology of friendship is integral for anyone pursuing an online psychology degree. From the formation and maintenance of friendships to their impact on mental and physical health, the insights gained from this field are truly invaluable. Some courses provide a comprehensive understanding of these dynamics, such as:

  • Social Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Emotional Intelligence

These courses prepare students for diverse careers in psychology. By delving into the psychology of friendship, students grow their academic knowledge as well as their personal lives and future professional practices.

If you’re looking to embark on a journey to understanding the psychology of friendship, earning a psychology degree either online or in person can open doors to many opportunities. We think you will find it a rewarding and impactful educational journey!

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