Perceptions of friendship among youth with distressed friends

Erin N. Hill, Lance P. Swenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-109
Number of pages11
JournalChild psychiatry and human development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Friendship quality
  • Internalizing problems
  • Self-disclosure


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