Relational interdependent self-construal and friendship maintenance in adulthood
Friendship is a critical but understudied component of the social lives of adults. Despite the association of friendship with many positive wellbeing outcomes, maintaining friendships in adulthood is challenging. To better understand why adult friendships often breakdown, I assessed what characteristics may lead to successful friendship maintenance in a proposed two-step process of 1) reaching out to a friend to make plans with them and 2) following through on those plans. In a series of two studies, the main characteristic investigated was relational interdependent self-construal (RISC), or how much a person includes their relationships into their self-concept. Additional variables included how much a person’s self-worth was contingent on their friends and self-efficacy in the friendship maintenance situations. The correlational results from both studies suggest that those higher in RISC were more likely to initiate communication with a friend to make plans. Additionally, feeling greater self-efficacy in both initiation and follow through scenarios was related to reporting a greater likelihood of performing those behaviors. Lastly, how likely a person was to follow through on plans may depend on their level of RISC and the degree their self-worth was contingent on friends, but some inconsistencies between studies made these relationships less certain. This is the first study that has examined if RISC influences the success of this two-step friendship maintenance process that seems common in adult life. My findings suggest that those higher in RISC may be better at maintaining their friendships and greater understanding of this construct could provide methods for strengthening friendships in adulthood.