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Relational Aggression and Friendship Quality in Late Adolescence

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Title: Relational Aggression and Friendship Quality in Late Adolescence
Author: Hendry, Carol-Anne
Department: Department of Psychology
Program: Psychology
Advisor: Hennig, Karl
Abstract: The main objective of the present research was to contribute to the literature by examining relational aggression and friendship quality in a late adolescent sample. Specifically, these two studies sought to determine whether relationally aggressive behaviour is associated with both costs and benefits with respect to friendship quality for an older sample of adolescents. In the first study, a total of 1600 university students (74.7% female) responded to an online survey assessing their perceived friendship quality (comprised of positive and negative features) and their level of self-disclosure (i.e., intimacy) with a close same-sex friend. In addition, each participant rated their experience and use of relational aggression, in general (i.e., relational perpetration), within the friendship (i.e., relational victimization), and directed towards others outside of the friendship (i.e., dyadic aggression). Results indicated that both relational perpetration and relational victimization were predictive of negative outcomes for the friendship. A unique pattern for dyadic aggression was demonstrated in that it was associated with positive outcomes for the friendship. Self-disclosure moderated the relation between relational aggression variables and friendship features. The second study sought to investigate and identify associations between the same relational aggression variables, friendship quality, self-disclosure, and an additional measure of satisfaction in the close same sex friendships of 242 older female adolescents using a dyadic approach to account for interdependence in friendships. In contrast to Study 1, the results of the second study highlighted more costs than benefits when relational aggression is used within the friendship context. Specifically, for 121 female friendship dyads, the three forms of relational aggression were typically associated with poor outcomes for friendship quality. Analysis of similarities between friends demonstrated that dissimilar ratings of relational aggression resulted in better outcomes for the friendship. Dyads who reported greater similarities in self-disclosure were more satisfied, yet also rated their friendships as higher in negative features. These findings partially support conceptions of relational aggression as having both adaptive and maladaptive functions at the relational level for older adolescents and point to the importance of addressing issues of interdependence within friendships.
Date: 2012-04
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