A Study of Friendship Characteristics and Problem Behaviors among Middle Adolescents


  • This research was supported by NIAAA grant no. AA07861 awarded to the author.

should be addressed to Michael Windle, Research Institute on Addictions, 1021 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203.


Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were used with a 15-item adolescent self-report measure to identify 4 salient friendship characteristics—Reciprocity of Relations, Overt Hostility, Covert Hostility, and Self-Disclosure—with a sample of about 1,100 middle adolescents. Higher levels of Overt and Covert Hostility and lower levels of Reciprocity of Relations with one's closest friend were associated with higher levels of alcohol consumption, percentage of friends who drink, delinquent activity, depressive symptoms, and suicidal behaviors. Self-Disclosure was positively correlated with some adolescent problem behaviors, possibly reflecting developmental changes toward greater interpersonal involvement with friends in concert with age normative tasks such as increased alcohol use. Longitudinal, prospective analyses indicated that delinquent activity and depressive symptoms were significant lagged predictors of Overt and Covert Hostility, but that friendship characteristics were not significant lagged predictors of adolescent problem behaviors.