Friendships Offset Negative Experiences
Canadian researchers reveal the biological basis by which a good friend beneficially impacts a person’s physiological and psychological health.
Previously, studies have shown that friendships can protect against adjustment difficulties later in life. William M. Bukowski, from Concordia University (Canada), and colleagues have pinpointed the biological basis by which a good friend beneficially impacts a person’s physiological and psychological health. The team studied 55 boys and 48 girls, enrolled in fifth and sixth elementary school grades. The subjects kept journals on their feelings and experiences over the course of four days, while the researchers measured levels of cortisol – the hormone produced naturally by the adrenal gland in direct response to stress – in the children's saliva. The team found that feelings of self-worth, as well as the levels of cortisol, were largely dependent on the social context of a negative experience. The study authors conclude that: " When a best friend was present, there was less change in cortisol and global self-worth due to the negativity of the experience.”
Adams, Ryan E.; Santo, Jonathan Bruce; Bukowski, William M. “The presence of a best friend buffers the effects of negative experiences.” Developmental Psychology, Vol 47(6), Nov 2011, 1786-1791.