With the purpose of providing conceptual elements to help educators and psychologists in the development of friendship relationships through emotions, this article a) describes the essential elements of friendship and b) psychologically analyses its emotional content. The relation between those emotions and their certain hierarchical nature leads us to pay attention to the presence of other-directed emotions and other-oriented emotions. We use the analysis of theoretical and applied studies, especially from emotion and social psychology, which confirm the description of friendship. They appear as emotions linked to friendship: love, attachment, affinity, self-esteem (its emotional dimension), altruism, embarrassment, and hope; also, wellness and satisfaction are emotions of friendship. In a negative way, resentment, envy, susceptibility, jealousy and shyness. Psychology leads to the differentiation, among others, of emotions that provoke a benefit to oneself (attachment), derived emotions (well-being, satisfaction), selfless emotions (altruism), emotions that raise the friend (compassion and forgiveness) and reciprocal emotions (empathy, affinity). Especially love stands out. Its specific notes suggest new studies. It is recommended, in order to perform a psychological or educational intervention, to promote selflessness and decentering, as well as the ability to compromise and assume responsibilities, to be able to have deep friendships.
Keywords: Friendshipother-oriented emotionsrelationshipspsychologyeducation
Interpersonal relationships and more specifically friendship relationships have been and are a permanent object of study. Numerous authors have devoted important efforts to the understanding of friendship, its description and even the development of the relationship. Thus, friendship is linked to well-being; it is one of the elements that relieves contemporary loneliness and it is fundamental in the development of behaviors adjusted to reality; either being considered adaptive, or facilitator of prosocial behaviors. Therefore, it is justified that new findings regarding this so typically human bond are pursued. However, and especially because it is a human reality, this bond is rich and complex as research shows: friendship is not accessed through only one discipline, but through psychology, sociology, anthropology and education. These have diagnosed current situations or provided new knowledge that call for solutions linked to interpersonal relationships. Relationships that, in one way or another, are or resemble friendship.
Despite the diversity of approaches, it seems opportune to approach friendship to contribute to its development positively. For that purpose, the action of specialists both from psychology and from education are considered especially relevant. In this context, it is key to identify the characteristic features of friendship, which are common to both disciplines. Therefore, we intend to clarify the link between friendship and emotion, pointing out what kinds of emotions and which ones in particular are especially related to the friendship relationship. Without pretending to carry out an exhaustive study of this link and its possible problems today, nor wanting to describe globalizing solutions, it does seem important to establish a theoretical framework that offers criteria for the design of the intervention in the development of friendship from the emotional area, which is essential to this relationship
As repeatedly shown in friendship studies from the sociological and anthropological fields (Little, 2000), it is necessary to distinguish various types of friendship. The starting point of this work will be the Aristotelian distinction, which is still valid today (May 2012; Schwarzenbach, 2009). Aristotle distinguishes three types of friendship: for utility, for pleasure or for the friend him/herself (friendship of virtue). In the two first cases a friend is loved mainly for what he or she offers or contributes; and in the third, the good sought is the friend himself/herself and he/she is loved for who he/she is, more than for what he/she has or does (Aristotle, 1994). Without undermining the other types of friendship, this work focuses on the last of these, currently known as
The studies regarding interpersonal relationships in psychology are also traditional (although its high point may have been in the 60s) and are related to various academic disciplines and different research methodologies (Reis, Aron, Clark, & Finkel, 2013). Their relevance is shown when interpersonal relations are linked to vital satisfaction, well-being, etcetera Thus, we are faced with the context of the notion of “health” in an integral sense just as it is defined by the World Health Organization: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" (WHO, 1946). In fact, it is widely known that healthy emotions -which are regulated or adjusted to reality-, improve, allow or are a condition for the prosocial behavior; in short, they are a condition of satisfactory interpersonal relationships (Mestre Escrivá, Samper García, & Frías Navarro, 2002; Song, Closante, & Malti, 2018). On the other hand, the concern for the personal and social problem of loneliness (Cacioppo & Cacioppo, 2018) has been another cause of the research both in terms of social psychology and the psychology of emotion.
The questions that arise when making explicit if it is possible to think of friendship apart from emotions are: Which are the emotions linked to friendship? What type of emotions are those and/or which characteristics do the emotions of friendship have? Which are, then, the ones that can be approached from the fields of education and psychology to develop better relationships of quality friendship?
These questions that seem opportune and relevant, due to both the theoretical and practical interests, have made us consider the following objectives in the present study.
Purpose of the Study
The main objective of this study is to help educators and psychologists to take part in the development of friendship reaching even the other-oriented emotions, providing conceptual elements for that. The secondary objectives are:
To describe the main elements of the friendship relationship
To show the emotions involved in friendship
To emphasize the role of other-oriented emotions in friendship.
This is a theoretical research aimed at preparing empirical studies and psychological or educational interventions. Following the methodology already used by Walker, Curren, and Jones (2016), we will approach theoretically the phenomenon of friendship from different perspectives since it is an interpersonal relationship classically studied from philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychology and education. The article starts with a well-grounded description of friendship, parting from consolidated previous theoretical and applied studies in these disciplines, which shows which emotions friendship owns. With regard to the study of emotions, it comes from a description of this term in the fields of Social Psychology and the Psychology of Emotion (as a response, a process, a cognitive dimension, etcetera). Then, and taking into account recent psychological studies, we address the classification and/or hierarchical organization of emotions shown in friendship. Finally, it is the theoretical articulation and reconciling of the contributions around the emotions of friendship and the hierarchy of emotions, which allows to answer the questions posed of this work (section
Findings in specific literature to describe the main elements of friendship
Remember that the type of friendship we are starting from is commonly known as “deep or close friendship”. Its most important features are described in the
The richness of friendship relationships and the intention to offer educators and psychologists help to intervene in the development of friendship by providing conceptual elements, requires presenting it in the most complete way possible, although it must be limited to the space available. For this, we will follow a description of friendship according to relevant literature.
The basic definition of a genuine friend is that he/she is someone who loves or likes another person for the sake of that other person. Aristotle writes about this that “those who wish good things for their friends for the sake of the latter are friends most of all, because they do so because of their friends themselves, and not coincidentally” (trad. 1994, p. 125 [1156b9–11]).
From there, the approach shows that friendship is, first, a type of love. Unlike others such as filiation or maternity-paternity, it is a free love, in the double sense that a) it assumes mutual choice and b) it is a disinterested and unconditional bond. This means that it is a relationship that seeks friends for themselves; it allows them to be themselves, knowing that they will be accepted just the way they are. This unconditional support and gratuity characteristic of friendship results in the affirmation of the person, which in the psychological area represents a reinforcement of self-esteem, a decrease in personal vulnerability, and a stimulus for growth (Shimizu, Nakashima, & Morinaga, 2018).
The friend is frequently described as “another self”, which shows that friendship alludes to a time of selfhood and otherness; that is to say, the friend is another
As Laín Entralgo (1986) stated, friendship includes three elements. First, it is a love of benevolence, which means that he/she wants the good of the friend and seeks it for him/her (beneficence). Moreover, together with benevolence and beneficence, friendship involves confidence, which is the communication between friends of that which is intimate and personal.
Indeed, friendship is based on sharing and that is its origin. However, what is shared specifically is their own privacy: that which is the most confidential of each and which cannot be known if it is not shown. Sharing what is private is exactly what differentiates the partner from the friend and because the richest way that a person has to express him/herself is using language, conversation is essential in every true friendship (Little, 2000). This dialogical exchange is characteristic of friends and leads to mutual knowledge, reciprocal admiration and affective and effective union between them.
Trust is a necessary requirement to share privacy and one of its characteristics is that it cannot be improvised or forced. This is one of the reasons why friendship requires time and shared life because even when the desire for friendship arises fast (Aristotle, trad. 1994), the relationship itself requires growth and development over time. To speak of friendship relationships properly, their three elements must take place (benevolence, beneficence and confidence), and they need at least two requirements from the point of view of developmental psychology: decentralization and empathy. Certainly, it is not possible to develop disinterested relationships if the stage of cognitive egocentrism -characteristic of childhood- has not been overcome or if there is no ability to understand the feelings of others. Additionally, confidence between friends is only possible when there is awareness of one’s own intimacy, a feature which appears in adolescence.
One of the factors for which friendship has been related to vital satisfaction and happiness, is that friends give meaning to one's own existence. This means that they give sense to it in at least three ways: because they allow you to live another life besides your own (Romero-Iribas, 2011), because they make it worth living it, and because friends are one of the reasons to live, although they are not the only one (May, 2012).
Cicero thought that virtue is what reconciles friendships and keeps them (trad. 2002), and from that perspective of friendship the virtues that usually accompany it, cannot be ignored:
Respect: the other is loved for who he/she is and not for what he/she does or has.
Sincerity, which is born out of mutual trust and is oblivious to pretence, hypocrisy, deceit or mistrust.
Loyalty, which is built on sincerity and trust.
At the core of this relationship is generosity or selflessness because it is considered that the friend himself is the true value.
The disposition to forgive and ask for forgiveness is necessary because imperfections and mistakes are part of human behaviour and overcoming them through forgiveness is one of the aspects that every quality relationship requires.
Together with the virtues that accompany friendship, vices can also appear out of the relationship itself; or vices that affect it. For the purpose of this work, it may be illustrative to mention some of them because they usually appear in the development of peer relationships and therefore, they provide educational opportunities even in a negative way. In particular, friendship is negatively affected by resentment, envy, selfishness, susceptibility or criticism. In addition, vices from friendship itself are: “exemplarism”, possessiveness, and excessive shyness which interferes with friends’ trust (Laín Entralgo, 1986).
This brief approach to friendship allows us to see that it is intrinsically linked to emotions beyond the same friendly feeling (which does not seem to designate friendship in its entirety, although it is a factor or part of it.) That opens a different educational path for the development of the relationship beyond the ethical level, and for that, it is interesting to identify these emotions and what type they are.
The friendship emotions
Well then, which emotions appear linked to friendship? According to what is described here, and without intending to be exhaustive, the following can be identified: love, attachment, trust, affinity, self-esteem (its emotional aspect), altruism, embarrassment and hope. Moreover, in a negative way, resentment, envy, susceptibility, jealousy and shyness.
Most of these emotions are easily identifiable as linked to friendship after the development. However, two of them may require more explanation: a) embarrassment as a natural feeling that appears when the most intimate is exposed publicly (which in friendship, it is overcome by trust); b) hope, which is related to the fact that friendship provides meaning to human life and, the more meaningful it is, the more it fills it with hope.
Finally, we could say that at a psychosocial level and according to what has been described, friendship implies that: the human being is not an isolated being and it is an essential factor for personal and social development; that it is a free relationship and it is mutual knowledge. Therefore, emotionally, friendship provides overcoming the feeling of loneliness; well-being for the subject and health for the groups; development in altruist behaviors and empathic knowledge of another.
Contributions of psychological studies on emotion to friendship
A first approach to the analysis of the emotions that appears in the study of friendship, leads us to
We can also adopt a broader approach of the studies on emotion than seems more relevant for understanding friendship emotions; we mean, in general terms, to attend to the “cognitive dimension” of emotion (Lazarus, 1982). Indeed, although James (1884) and Damasio (2006) pointed out that the merely mental, or where there is no physiological participation, is not an emotion in its own sense; neither it seems emotions are triggered outside of a certain valuation of external (or internal) stimulus (Palmero, Guerrero, Gómez, & Carpi, 2006). If we attend to these variables, emotion can be defined as a "state of the subject" (psychophysical state) that occurs after cognitive-appraisal and conative or trend operations (classical appetite), in connection with the environment and one’s own psychosomatic reality (Martínez Priego, 2010).
For this reason, the friend can be known-valued as important in relation to one’s own goals, desires or worries; that is to say, in relation to one’s own state according to the quoted definition. This is especially clear in emotions such as attachment and trust. In both cases, the estimate that is made of the other is linked to the “law of concern” (Fridja, 2001). If we go a step further, it is necessary to recognize that not only in these emotions is “the other” the trigger, but others such as love, empathy, sympathy, compassion, respect, forgiveness, embarrassment, admiration and altruism, share the need to refer to an external subject --another self--. This becomes a triggering of each one of these emotions, although, not always in relation to the “law of concern” (meaning, in someone who satisfies me or fulfils my needs.) In other words, emotions relative to friendship are emotions that are triggered by the “other”, but that does not mean that they are necessarily triggered because the other “is convenient for me” or because “I need him/her”; they can be triggered independently to one’s own needs. The friendship relationship itself, and even the good of the other, is the beginning of some of these emotional states.
If this is so, we can state that two emotions that are part of friendship --vital satisfaction and well-being--, are in this relationship “derived emotions” or they come from previous situations that are “valued” by the subject as positive. That is to say, in friendship if the subject considers that the goal of the interpersonal relationship is the satisfaction of the “self”, then emotions like compassion, respect or forgiveness could not be authentic. Certainly, well-being can have various origins, but the well-being of friendship cannot be sought for itself, but it appears when there is a previous emotion (that can accompany knowledge or an action) related to another person: undoubtedly, this element refers to “personal unselfishness” (an attitude that we discuss below) or altruism (Blum, 1980). Some authors (Michie & Gooty, 2005), have also seen in emotions like compassion, respect, admiration or trust that they have the characteristic of referring to the other and not to oneself. They have been called “
There is an aspect of friendship (reciprocity/mutuality and their implications) that can be detected in two of its emotions. On one side, in affinity (union), where it is clear because there cannot be a feeling of bonding or affinity except when it is something mutual. Otherwise, it would be a fake or empty emotion. Precisely due to this feature, friendship leads to overcoming the feeling of loneliness (Cacioppo & Cacioppo, 2018). Additionally, embarrassment is linked to reciprocity in one of its implications. This feeling requires This feeling requires both the psychological emergence of one´s intimacy-privacy as the otherness (Dunn, 2004). Friends care for and share their intimate or private issues (psychical or biographical) for being valuable. And in love, personal intimacy is linked to commitment --and to passion in the case of romantic love-- (Sternberg, 1988).
On the other hand, affinity (union) requires other psychological requirements in the subject: decentering (requirement for joint attention) and empathic capacity (affection that knows and feels with the affection of others). Empathy is especially relevant in friendship because it is only possible in the simultaneity of emotional situations. Because it is about knowing and feeling with the other, empathy requires, -cognitively- decentering. This term, in our context, may not be understood as metacognition in respect to one’s own thoughts or emotions (Linaresa, Estéveza, Soler, & Cebollac, 2016), but as a thought that understands the real as real (Rof Carballo, 1952) and not as related to me. Both empathy and decentering involve recognition of the other, not as an extension of me, but as different from me. In this regard, the difference between decentering and "adualism", which is the opposite, is classical. (Piaget & Inhelder, 2007). Indeed, adualism is the situation of cognitive immaturity in which the child does not differentiate the world from the self. Maturing will allow him/her to sense and focus on the other or perceive the other as different and primary before the “self”. In other words, maturing is “decentering” (Polo, 2006). Therefore, both elements involve certain maturity of the personality.
Regarding other emotions such as hope and self-esteem (linked together), they have a different place: openness to the future. Hope involves self-transcendence and it requires self-esteem. In fact, hope has a certain foundation in the esteem that each one has of him/herself, but the esteem that others have for us is definitely the basis for this emotion (Winnicott, 1981). According to the classics, hope begins when a good is perceived as obtainable (Aquinas, trad. 2012, p. 914 [q.40, a.1]). In such a case, friendship can be a necessary help, either because of material participation in the achievement, or because of the value that we have and that makes us perceive that we can. Obviously, this is just the emotional principle of more nuanced feelings: the friendship relationship helps us discover real personal achievement:
Finally, we found a characterization of emotions that seems to open new horizons: the
Thus, we understand that
We stated that other-oriented emotions, hierarchically considered, are oriented towards
New findings about types of emotions: other-oriented emotions and friendship
The study of friendship relationships has revealed its emotional content. The psychological analysis of these emotions shows different characteristics in each one of them, which suggests the existence of “types of emotions.” The emotions of friendship require each other and have a certain hierarchical nature. Thus, to conclude, it is now necessary to respond conceptually and operatively to the following question: which emotions can be worked from psychology and education to develop quality friendship relationships?
According to what has been stated so far, some emotions are left out by their derivative nature. Indeed, life satisfaction, well-being and hope do not arise directly in friendship relationships, but rather they result from them. In the case of satisfaction and well-being, if they are sought in the friendship relationship, they can make it inauthentic because they turn a relationship that is naturally free into one that is self-interested.
In the described and analysed emotions, we find:
Emotions triggered by the other and that report some type of benefit to the subject that experiences them, as is the case of the attachment that provides security. These emotions, worked in an isolated way, do not lead to friendship.
Emotions triggered by the other, but that do not benefit the subject: altruism. In general, anything that involves "not seeking personal interest", that is, selflessness, is a necessary condition for the development of friendly relations. Loyal companionship is a concrete way to initiate the development of altruism (unselfishness).
However, deep or true friendship requires maturity. Therefore, the cognitive capacity of "decentering" and the affective capacity of "empathy" (which require "selflessness") are required. Both can be educated early in life.
Compassion and forgiveness, which are other-oriented emotions, do not participate entirely in the dynamics of preceding emotions. Not only do they require empathic ability, but, also they must measure up to the friend and make him/her better.
The type of love that is friendship has one more feature: it is a "bonding feeling". That is, commitments, responsibilities, etcetera facilitate the willingness to love. If love is a person-person bond, it is possible that emotion is an accompanying but non-founding element of love. Personal love may not be the first thing in time, but the end, the nature of true friendships
In short, if we attend to emotion only as a response (physiological activation, nonverbal expression, coping / motor behaviour and subjective experience / feeling), the manifestations that are less proportional or less adaptive to reality can be regulated with different strategies. If the "emotional process" is addressed and, more specifically, the "evaluation-assessment" (the cognitive dimension of emotion) we must attend, according to the most common schemes, to the evaluation of novelty and intrinsic pleasure; and also, the assessment of goal significance, coping and regulations (Fernández Abascal et al, 2010).
The study regarding friendship emotions encourages psychologists and educators to rework intervention strategies focused on the development of the emotional conditions of friendship, some of which exceed the traditional "evaluation-assessment" schemes. Finally, although the emotions of friendship satisfy the adaptive, social and motivational functions of all emotion, the requirements demanded by the "other-oriented emotions", encourage us to develop new research on selflessness, commitment or permanence of the bonds.
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14 January 2019
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Romero-Iribas, A., & Martínez-Priego, C. (2019). Could We Think About Friendship Relationships Without Emotions? The Other-Oriented Emotions. In Z. Bekirogullari, M. Y. Minas, & R. X. Thambusamy (Eds.), ICEEPSY 2018: Education and Educational Psychology, vol 53. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 9-21). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.01.2