Life always has ups and downs. Modern research has focused on resiliency and the factors that help people cope when things go the wrong way.
A new U.K. study now finds that friendships play a vital role in helping people get through substantial challenges in life.
Until now, little research has been carried out into the role friends and, in particular, best friends play in building resilience to adversity — surviving and thriving in the face of difficult times.
The new preliminary study by Dr. Rebecca Graber, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Brighton, provides long-term statistical evidence of the enormous benefit these valued social relationships have on adults.
Graber, who carried out the research while at the University of Leeds, recruited 185 adults through online social networking sites, university events, and community organizations supporting socially-isolated adults. Some 75 adults completed the questionnaire.
Participants completed assessments on psychological resilience, best friendship quality, coping behaviors, and self-esteem. Participants then completed the same assessments one year later, to see how best friendship quality had impacted resilience processes over this period.
Graber said, “These findings reveal that best friendships are a protective mechanism supporting the development of psychological resilience in adults, although the mechanisms for this relationship remain unclear.
“The study provides long-term statistical evidence, for the first time, of the vital role of these valued social relationships for developing resilience in a community-based adult sample, while posing open questions for just how best friendships facilitate resilience in this way.”
These findings support Graber’s previous research that revealed the importance of best friends to facilitate resiliency among socioeconomically vulnerable children.