Functions of Friends

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Functions of Friendship
“Friends are a subset of peers who engage in mutual companionship, support, and intimacy,” according to John W. Santrock in the book Adolescence. This implies that there are certain characteristics that are involved. Gottman and Parker organized these characteristics into six main categories, which serve as the functions of friendship. They include: Companionship, stimulation, physical support, ego support, social comparison, and intimacy/affection.

Harry Sullivan is given credit as the “most influential theorist to discuss the importance of adolescent friendships” (Santrock1). Like the basic physical needs that all people have there are social needs that also need to be met for the adolescent to be emotionally balanced. These basic social needs include the six functions of friendship. Sullivan also states examples showing what could happen if these basic functions are not met. For example, loneliness and depression can result from not satisfying companionship.

“Adolescents spend an average of 103 minutes per day in meaningful interactions with friends, compared with just 28 minutes per day with parents” (Santrock2). (Note: this data was from a study by Buhrmester and Carbery, 1992) Since adolescents are spending so much time with their friends they tend to look to them for their emotional support. As intimacies are disclosed they become closer by offering support and advice. “The most consistent finding in the last two decades of research on adolescent friendships is that intimacy is an important feature of friendship (Berndt and Perry, 1990; Bukowski, Newcomb, and Hoza, 1987)” (Santrock3).

Looking back to my adolescence or Jr. High years I can recall that these functions were present in my friendships. For example, since I played sports I spent most of my time with my team and we all became really close. We could talk to each other about anything and we would seek advice from on another. We also supported one another on and...
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