Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

What are friends for? Negating negativity

(Although the study was on children, wondering if this can be extended to adults, and to some degree, being in community – whether physical or mental or spiritual)


What are friends for? Negating negativity

From the 26 January Science Daily article

‘Stand by me’ is a common refrain when it comes to friendship but new research from Concordia University proves that the concept goes beyond pop music: keeping friends close has real physiological and psychological benefits.

The presence of a best friend directly affects children going through negative experiences, as reported in the recent Concordia-based study, which was published in the journal Developmental Psychology and conducted with the collaboration of researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Feelings of self-worth and levels of cortisol, a hormone produced naturally by the adrenal gland in direct response to stress, are largely dependent on the social context of a negative experience.

“Having a best friend present during an unpleasant event has an immediate impact on a child’s body and mind,” says co-author William M. Bukowski, a psychology professor and director of the Concordia Centre for Research in Human Development. “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 and decrease in feelings of self-worth.”

A total of 55 boys and 48 girls from grades 5 and 6 in local Montreal schools took part in the study. Participants kept journals on their feelings and experiences over the course of four days and submitted to regular saliva tests that monitored cortisol levels.

Although previous studies have shown that friendships can protect against later adjustment difficulties, this study is the first to definitively demonstrate that the presence of a friend results in an immediate benefit for the child undergoing a negative experience.

February 9, 2012 - Posted by | Psychology | , ,


  1. Love this Janice! I often have to remind myself to stay connected as I tend to hole up in my own little world, and this is a great reminder that it’s actually good for my health too!

    Comment by Sabrina Bolin (@MyMiBoSo) | February 10, 2012 | Reply

    • This was a great reminder for me too!

      Comment by Janice Flahiff | February 11, 2012 | Reply

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