Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Psychological Theories on Friendship - Dictionary of Arguments

Upton I 137
Friendship/Psychological theories/Upton: As adults marry, have children and take on increasing responsibilities in other areas of life as well, so their social networks shrink (Fischer et al., 1989)(1). This has been suggested to be a choice made by older adults to fulfil an emotional need (Carstensen, 1992)(2). According to socio-emotional selectivity theory, the realisation that life is decreasing prompts adults to narrow their choice of social partners to those who bring most emotional pleasure, usually family and close friends (Carstensen, 1992)(2). However, friendships do remain important across the lifespan, even if greater selectivity is shown. Indeed, the quality of friendships is closely related to well-being in adulthood (Pinquart and Sorensen, 2000)(3) and the importance of a supportive social network for physical as well as psychological health has been noted (Charles and Mavandadi, 2004)(4). Indeed, there is evidence to link having a small harmonious group of friends with better cardiovascular, endocrine and immune systems.
Social relationships affect health and well-being through the effects they have on emotional regulation. Negative features such as separation from caregivers, abuse and emotional deprivation raise stress levels in infants, which disrupts neural development, making these individuals more susceptible to stress in later life (Gunnar and Quevedo, 2007)(5).


1. Fischer, JL, Soffie, DL, Sorell, GT, Green, 5K (1989) Marital status and career stage influences on social networks of young adults. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 51:521-34.
2. Carstensen, L. L. (1992). Social and emotional patterns in adulthood: Support for socio-emotional selectivity theory. Psychology and Aging, 7, 331-338. doi:10.1037/0882-7974.7.3.331
3. Pinquart, M and Sorensen, S (2000) Influences of socioeconomic status, social network, and competence on subjective well-being in later life: a meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 15: 187-224.
4. Charles, ST and Mavandadi, SK (2004) Social support and physical health across the lifespan: socio-emotional influences, in Lang, FR and Fingerman, KL (eds) Growing Together: Personal relationships across the life span. New York: Cambridge University Press.
5. Gunnar, MR and Quevedo, K(2007) The neurobiology of stress and development. Annual Review of Psychology, 58: 145-73.


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The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Psychological Theories
Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011


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