Having friends key to overcoming life’s challenges, finds study

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A friend in need really is a friend indeed according to a new study on the benefits of friendship.

Psychologists concluded that when times in life get hard, mates really can play a big part in helping you overcome difficulties.

Dr Rebecca Graber, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Brighton conducted the research on 185 adults, 75 of whom completed questionnaires.

The results of the preliminary study conducted between 2010 and 2012 reveal the role friends and, in particular, best friends play in building resilience to adversity.

Dr Graber, who began the study whilst at the University of Leeds, said: "This provides for the first long-term statistical evidence of the enormous benefit these valued social relationships have on adults."

Those recruited came from online social networking sites, university events and community organisations supporting socially-isolated adults.

Participants completed assessments on psychological resilience, best friendship quality, coping behaviours and self-esteem.

They then completed the same assessments one year later, to see how best friendship quality had impacted resilience processes over this period.

Dr Graber, who will present her findings at the British Psychological Society annual conference next month said: "These findings reveal that best friendships are a protective mechanism supporting the development of psychological resilience in adults, although the mechanisms for this relationship remain unclear.

"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."