This cross-sectional study examined the relationship between a friend's level of internalizing distress and the focal child's perceptions of friendship amongst 5th, 8th, and 11th grade youth. Participants completed the Youth Self-Report to assess internalizing distress and measures assessing perceptions of friendship quality, social support, and self-disclosure within reciprocal, same-sex friendship dyads. Results indicated that youth with friends experiencing low levels of internalizing distress reported poorer friendship quality and decreased levels of social support and self-disclosure within the friendship compared to youth with friends experiencing average or high internalizing distress. In a second set of analyses controlling for the focal child's own internalizing symptoms, gender, and age, friend's level of internalizing distress remained a significant, unique predictor of target participants' self-disclosure about their own problems within the friendship. The findings suggest that a mild degree of internalizing distress may enhance, rather than harm, friendships amongst youth.
- Friendship quality
- Internalizing problems