What factors are perceived to influence the maintenance of Friendships in young adults?
The thematic analysis process created essential themes which were part of the data transcripts. The themes withdrawn from the transcripts were; Quality of Friendships, Commonality & Transition which all have a link to the research question but still provide an individual understanding of the question. The three transcripts have various different themes present in regards to development, maintenance and also the formation of friendships, therefore, the research question is, what factors are perceived to influence the maintenance of Friendships in young adults?
Quality of Friendships
This theme is obtained from all three participants’ capability to pinpoint their feelings on how to maintain such friendships and particular qualities within significant and meaningful friendships.
All three participants required a good level of support and also comfort from their friends; a participant who expressed the need for support and how vital it was, was when he had first joined his new school in England from Austria. The support was in place which started off their friendship and progressed from there on as he was new and did not know anyone else.
Likewise, another participant described how support was reliant on how much maturity in her friendship was presented in various different situations. Moreover, support should be reciprocated both ways and, therefore, is depending on the person who is more familiar with how to deal with situations through a supportive approach.
Additionally, another participant expressed how having support leads to a good maintenance of friendships, especially during exam season. She had drawn attention to if some of her friends did not wake up early then one of them would support the others by waking them all, which is required to maintain friendships therefore a good support system within the friendship.
Moreover, it can be tough to maintain friendships and this was displayed in two of the participants due to negative features of friendship such as exclusion. When they were asked about their previous friendships, one participant experienced the feeling of being left out in various situations and a different participant explained the feeling of being used by his friends, therefore influencing how the friendship is maintained.
Previous research by Hiatt et al (2015), drawing attention to friendships that are of good quality are more likely to have a better social life and more support as well as reduced negativity from friends hence greater ability to maintain friendships. Similarly, poor quality friendships are more likely to have less support and increased negativity. These findings relate to the data from the transcripts that show that if there is a lot of negative features in a friendship this can cause the friendship to fall apart as explained by the participants regarding their own experiences and feelings from previous friendships. Another research by Ojanen et al (2010) studied adolescents and came to the conclusion that to maintain friendships between two people require reciprocity and mutual support.
This theme comes from all the participants’ capability to demonstrate how important it is to have qualities in common and similarities in friendship, which has an influence on the maintenance of friendships.
Having a high degree of commonality within friendships is quite important to form, develop and maintain the friendship. All three participants depicted things they have in common with their friends which allowed them to communicate easily and formed some sort of understanding between each other. One participant explained how similarities between two people can lead to them bonding over what experiences and preferences they share in common. Therefore, commonality allows them to interact at ease.
Another participant had the same culture in common with her friend and expressed that this was important to maintain her friendship because there would be cultural understandings between her and her friends, therefore, she could relate to them and they could understand her better as cultures are same.
Moreover, another participant expressed how mutual understanding with the other person is important to maintain that friendship and sometimes to let go of things helps to bond in friendship.
Furthermore, a participant voiced that situations can change and often make things quite challenging to continue commonality in friendship, such as lack of social life. This can lead to a friendship fall apart all down to lack of common situations.
Literature-based on physical activity and adolescent friendships found that friends that partake in similar physical activity are more likely to build a friendship and therefore a mutually dependent relationship. This illustrates that commonality is an influential factor in the maintenance of friendship. (de La Haye, Robins, Mohr, Wilson, 2011)
This theme comes from all the participants’ capability to identify how life changes and experiences can influence the maintenance of friendships.
Transitions are ongoing in life, and they can either be educational or personal. Participants felt as though changes such as or moving away from home for university, or given the circumstance that they are put in changes and therefore are not able to maintain their friendships to the best of their ability. One of the participants indicated that it is expected of friendships to fall apart when they all have their own lives to get on with, in which they go through transitions and never being able to see them again, hence the friendship is no longer being maintained.
However, a different participant expressed that moving away from home does not change the maintenance of the friendship even if the circumstance changes. Hence, this insinuates that transition is not alone to have an effect on maintaining friendships but also effort both ways have an impact.
Additionally, two participants have recognised that by moving away to university, friendship requires some space in order to grow as an individual and hence friendships can develop and maintain. This emphasises that transition is an important factor in trying to maintain and develop friendships.
An earlier study by Oswald and Clark (2003) shows that proximity does not influence friendship but communication does play a significant role in maintaining friendships. On the other hand, Preciado et al (2012) found that when there is an increase in proximity, this lessens the likelihood of maintenance in friendships, therefore, highlighting that when changes occur it is expected that friendships may not remain the same and can deteriorate. Consequently, this can be related to the participants who highlighted that effort was the most influential factor however from previous literature communication is also important. However, there can be other causes that impede the effects that influence maintaining friendships during transitions.
From the three themes, data derived such factors that have an influence on the maintenance of friendships. Quality of friendships theme showed that there can be negative features, as poor quality such as exclusion can cause friendships to fall apart. Also displayed that positive features benefit the maintenance of friendships due to having comfort and support. Furthermore, commonality theme indicated that it is vital to have common aspects between friends such as similar situations, preferences or dislikes to maintain such friendships. Finally, the transition theme illustrates how there are several influential aspects that can improve maintaining friendship such as effort and communication even if circumstances change. This was established in the data and through previous research.
As a researcher, there are factors which could have an effect on how the data was analysed and interpreted having an influence on the analysis. One potential bias is that I am currently a university student, hence such university experiences and views of the participants that were derived from the data, I tend to empathise with their feelings more. Additionally, having gone through bad friendships during university in first year, I am able to sympathise with Shazia as I had a difficult time during the end of my first year due to being pushed out of a group of friends. Overall, being a student and personal experiences have allowed me to analyse and interpret much more in-depth. This process has affected my views by reassuring myself that this does happen to people when they move away from home to a new environment and that I am not the only one that has been through it.
My research question considered ‘influence’ so that a range of factors can be explored on the maintenance of friendships and not a unidirectional research question that limits the number of factors explored. Though, the research process hindered the data found due to the chosen method of interview. The conversational style of interview provides limited and brief details, additionally, the interviewee would go off on tangents which do not allow the interviewer to obtain information on some issues in depth in relation to maintaining friendships.
- de la Haye, K., Robins, G., Mohr, P., & Wilson, C. (2011). How physical activity shapes, and is shaped by, adolescent friendships. Social Science & Medicine, 73(5), 719-728. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.06.023
- Hiatt, Cody., Laursen, B., Mooney, S. K., & Rubin, H. K. (2015). Forms of friendship: A person-centered assessment of the quality, stability, and outcomes of different types of adolescent friends. Personality and Individual Differences, 77, 149-155.
- Ojanen, T., Sijtsema, J. J., Hawley, H. P., & Little, D. T. (2010). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in early adolescents’ friendship development: Friendship selection, influence, and prospective friendship quality. Journal of Adolescence, 33(6), 837-851.
- Oswald, L. D., & Clark, M. E. (2003). Best friends forever?: High school best friendships and the transition to college. Personal Relationships, 10, 187-196.
|Code||Initial Theme||Final Theme|
|Exclusion from group||Negative features of friendship||Quality of Friendship|
|Positive features of friendship|