Having a best friend makes you more resilient, study finds

BRIGHTON, England — Having a best friend might just make you happier and more successful. That’s because lasting friendships help people get through life’s hardships more with greater ease than a loner would be able to, a new preliminary study finds.

Dr. Rebecca Graber, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Brighton, led the study that for the first time presents long-term statistical evidence showing that having a best friend plays a key role in how resilient a person is in working through a challenging scenario.

Best friends "pinky-swearing"
Best friendship was found to be a valuable mechanism in one’s psychological resiliency, according to a preliminary study from the UK.

Graber, who conducted the research while at the University of Leeds, recruited 185 adults in the United Kingdom via social media, university events, or community groups that support socially-isolated adults. Participants were tasked with taking assessments on their “psychological resilience, best friendship quality, coping behaviors, and self-esteem,” according to a description of the research project. Graber then followed up with the participants a year later and had them complete the same assessment “to see how best friendship quality had impacted resilience processes over this period.”

Though only 75 of the initial 185 participants completed the entire assessment, Graber found that best friendship served as an important “protective mechanism” when it came to building one’s psychological resiliency, though why they proved so valuable was not yet clear.

“The study provides long-term statistical evidence, for the first time, of the vital role of these valued social relationships for developing resilience in a community-based adult sample, while posing open questions for just how best friendships facilitate resilience in this way,” she says in a university news release.

Previous research conducted by Graber showed a similar result for socio-economically vulnerable children who had best friends.

Graber’s research paper, “Do best friends promote psychological resilience in adults?” will be presented May 3 at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference at the University of Brighton.


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