Supportive aspects of friendship in times of need: A qualitative exploration

Melissa L. Rotkiewicz (2004)

The purpose of this dissertation is to provide an in-depth, qualitative look at young adults' perceptions of social support, specifically in the face of negative life events. It explores those aspects of friendship that young adults identify as supportive during and after such difficult times. Specifically, the ways in which these participants make meaning from, value, and use their social support systems during times of need were explored, as well as the specific actions taken by friends that the participants found to be supportive. Diverse participants solicited from a large, rural, state university were individually interviewed. Data was coded and categorized with the assistance of NVivo, a qualitative data analysis software program. Bond and trust/dependability were found to be key supportive elements of the friendships investigated. It is hoped that these findings will contribute not only to the current literature on the topic of friendship in general, but that it will also assist psychologists and others in the mental health field to better understand the actual characteristics and dynamics of young adult friendship. Perhaps, too, these findings will help to inform parents, teachers, psychologists, and other mental health professionals of better and more useful ways to help and understand young adults in their times of need, as well as offer a new perspective on negative life events.