Close friendship brings psychological benefits

Forming close friendships can bring both psychological and physiological benefits, new research has suggested. Published in the journal Development Psychology, the study revealed the presence of a pal can serve to mitigate the effects of negative experiences.

According to the investigation, being in the company of a mate directly affects these situations, with feelings of self-worth and levels of the stress hormone cortisol dependent on the social context in which a negative experience occurs.

William Bukowski, a Psychology Professor and Director of the Concordia Centre for Research in Human Development - which habeen in operation for around 30 years - noted having a best friend present during an unpleasant time can have an effect straight away, adding: "If a child is alone when he or she gets in trouble with a teacher or has an argument with a classmate, we see a measurable increase in cortisol levels.

In addition, a young person's feelings of self-worth are likely to decrease should they be by themselves in such an instance.

Dr Dorothy Rowe, a Chartered Psychologist, said: "Life presents us with some insoluble dilemmas. One is that if we love we run the risk of loss: if we do not love we are lonely. Another dilemma is that, if we do not die young, we get old. However, life is immeasurably poorer without friends."