Popularity and Quality of Adolescent Friendships: are they resources or risks? (pp. 35-54)
Authors: (Emanuela Rabaglietti, Maria Fernanda Vacirca & Silvia Ciairano)
Abstract: This longitudinal study (2 waves at 9 months distance; 328 adolescents of both genders, aged between 14 and 20 years and who attended various types of high school) considers popularity and quality of friendship (support and conflict perceived by the adolescent with him/her best friend) for investigating: 1) the stability and the change during time with respect to gender and age-group; 2) the relationships with psychological adjustment (social, regulatory and emotional self-efficacy, positive self-perception, and discomfort) and risk behavior (alcohol abuse, marijuana smoking, risky driving). The girls perceived their friendships more positively than boys. Popularity and support were stable, while conflict decreased. We found some positive relationships between popularity and social self-efficacy, between friendship quality and emotional self-efficacy, and between friendship quality and positive self-perception. The role fulfilled by friend support and by conflict with friends was much more complex than expected: support by friends was not always positively associated with adjustment, and conversely conflict with friends was not always negatively related to adjustment. Finally, the role of friendship quality in risk was scarce and limited to alcohol abuse, while popularity was related to risky driving. These patterns of associations suggest that overall both popularity and quality of friendship represent important resources for the adolescents, even if social relationships may always have some costs.