Adolescents' and young adults' decisions, judgments, and reasoning about conflicts between friendship and individualism

Melissa A McCandless, Purdue University


People have definite expectations about how they expect their friends to behave (e.g., friends help one another). People also have ideas about how people in general should behave (e.g., people should be self-reliant) that are linked to principles of individualism. In many situations, expectations of friendship may conflict with principles of individualism. To examine how individuals think about such conflicts, 15-year-old high school students and 18- and 21-year-old college students (N = 144) heard dilemmas in which friendship expectations were assumed to conflict with some aspect of individualism. Students reported their decisions about how they would respond to such conflicts, their judgments about their friends' reactions to an individualistic decision, and their judgments about rules of friendship and individualism. They also gave their reasons for these judgments. Then the perspective in the dilemmas was reversed and students answered questions about what their friend would do and how their friends' decision would make them feel. Students also reported on the quality of their friendships and on their endorsement of individualistic attitudes and values. ^ The analyses revealed age and sex differences in how adolescents and young adults responded to the dilemmas. The adolescents made judgments and provided reasoning that was less friendship-oriented than the young adults did. Female students gave responses that were more friendship oriented than those of male students. In addition, students' responses and the reasons for their responses varied for the two types of dilemmas. Finally, students' responses to the dilemmas were related to their reports of friendship quality.^




Thomas J. Berndt, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Developmental

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