The quality of adolescent friendships: long-term effects?

J Health Soc Behav. 1998 Mar;39(1):55-71.


While differing in etiological emphasis, a variety of theoretical perspectives seem to coalesce around the notion that youthful friendships are "good" for development. Sociometric studies have documented that low status youth are at risk for a variety of negative outcomes, but there has been little longitudinal research focused on the qualities of youths' relations with peers. We conducted interviews focusing on adolescents' relations with their friends with 942 adolescents in 1982. In 1992, follow-up interviews (N = 620) allowed us to determine whether level of intimacy with friends was associated with a range of adult outcomes, once sociodemographic characteristics and level of family intimacy were taken into account. Adolescents who reported greater levels of intimacy with friends do not, as adults, indicate that they have significantly higher self-esteem, better relations with their parents, or increased marital satisfaction. In addition, the level of intimacy is not related to adult reports of psychological distress, involvement in criminal activity, or use of violence against one's spouse. In contrast, sociodemographic characteristics and level of attachment to parents are related to many of these kinds of outcomes. We also discuss implications for attachment or relational perspectives on youthful friendship.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adult
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Peer Group*
  • Personality Development*
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Psychometrics
  • Self Concept
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires