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Friendship and Communication

William K. Rawlins


Communication within friendships is important for human development throughout life. Beginning in childhood, friendships shape and reflect developments in social cognition, perspective-taking abilities, moral comportment, and cooperation as equals. During adolescence and younger adulthood, friendships cultivate ethical sensibilities, and understandings and practices of intimacy, identity, and sociability. Across life people describe three benefits of close friendship: somebody to talk to; to depend on and rely on for instrumental help, social support, and caring; and to have fun and enjoy doing things with. Communication with friends relieves loneliness and contributes to physical and psychological well-being. Despite consistent features, changes occur in the communication of friends across developmental periods due to differences in persons, their gender, concrete socio-cultural circumstances, and opportunities for and actual participation in friendship. Friendships persist to the extent that individuals treat each other in mutually fulfilling ways, according to shared definitions of required contact, evaluative standards, and appropriate actions. The interaction of friends helps us understand inherently valued communicative practices, as well as how and why people negotiate voluntary, free-standing allegiances with others or include a “friendship component” in diverse personal ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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