DOI: 10.1177/02654075231195115 ISSN:

Say you’ll be there: Associations between observed verbal responses, friendship quality, and perceptions of support in young adult friendships

Erin P. Macdonald, Thomas H. Khullar, Ella L. Vezina, Katya Santucci, John E. Lydon, Amanda J. Rose, Melanie A. Dirks
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Communication
  • Social Psychology

Friendships are a primary source of social support during young adulthood; however, little is known about the factors associated with young adults feeling greater support during interactions with friends. We examined how micro-level verbal responses and macro-level judgments of friendship quality were associated with perceptions of support following an interaction between friends. Same-gender friend dyads ( N = 132; 66.2% female; 18–24 years, M age = 19.63) took turns speaking about a problem, then participants rated their perceptions of support given and received following the task. We coded each participant’s verbal responses while in the listening role. Actor Partner Interdependence Models (APIMs) revealed significant partner effects for negative engagement responses, such that greater negative engagement responses were linked with the partner perceiving poorer support both given and received. Models revealed significant actor effects for supportive responses, such that greater supportive responses predicted the actor perceiving better support both given and received. Additionally, models revealed significant actor effects of friendship quality predicting actors’ perceiving better support both given and received. Finally, exploratory models revealed minimal interactions between a few types of verbal responses and positive friendship quality. Taken together, results suggest that (a) negative verbal responding styles may be more meaningfully associated with partners’ perceptions of support in the moment than are supportive behaviours, whereas (b) supportive verbal responding styles may be more meaningfully associated with actors’ perceptions of support in the moment, and (c) actors’ judgments of friendship quality are strongly associated with their overall perceptions of support, and a critical factor to consider in future research.

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