A paper published in the British Journal of Psychology has been chosen as one of the six most interesting psychology papers of 2015 by The New Yorker.
‘Best friends and better coping: Facilitating psychological resilience through boys’ and girls’ closest friendships’ by Rebecca Graber, Rhiannon Turner and Anna Madill was published in in June.
It reported a study of 409 students aged between 11 and 19 from three schools and two colleges in Yorkshire that served catchment areas with poor socioeconomic status.
The students completed psychological assessments of the quality of their closest friendship, their resilience in the face of adverse experiences and how they typically coped with problems.
Both boys’ and girls’ best friendships facilitated effective ways of coping (such as planning, reframing an issue in a positive way and using emotional support) that helped them develop resilience in the face of complex challenges.
A significant gender difference also emerged. Counterintuitively, girls’ best friendships had a slight tendency to promote risky and ineffective ways of coping with adversity (such as self-blame and substance use), but boys’ best friendships did not.
The author of The New Yorker article, Maria Konnikova, said:
‘This study shows that even a single close friendship is valuable in protecting children - even the most vulnerable - against multiple psychological risk factors. It’s not a new idea, but the research is an important empirical step forward.’