What’s behind the link between social anxiety and low friendship satisfaction? Exploring the role of perceived closeness, self-disclosure, friendship maintenance behaviours, and relational reciprocity
MetadataShow full item record
Prior studies have found that high socially anxious (SA) individuals suffer from lower quality friendships and poorer social supports, which contribute to chronic feelings of loneliness and social isolation as well as diminished overall well-being and life satisfaction. The present research sought to clarify the relationship between SA and friendship satisfaction across different levels of friendship intimacy. We also aimed to gain insight into the associations between trait SA, friendship satisfaction, and key relationship characteristics that relational scientists have deemed important to the development and maintenance of friendships, including levels of self-disclosure, use of “friendship maintenance behaviours” (FMBs), and focus on relational reciprocity. To this end, we conducted two online studies, in which participants completed a variety of questionnaires in which they reported on their thoughts and behaviours in relationships with three specific individuals in their life representing different levels of friendship intimacy: a superficial friend (acquaintance), casual friend, and close (or best) friend. In study 1, we recruited 177 undergraduate students at the University of Waterloo, whereas in Study 2 we recruited 320 community-based North American adults through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Results revealed that for both undergraduate students and community adults, friendship satisfaction increased with increasing levels of friendship intimacy, but SA was consistently associated with lower friendship satisfaction. Irrespective of trait SA, both self-disclosure and use of FMBs increased as friendships deepened and increases in both were associated with greater friendship satisfaction. However, for student (but not community) participants, trait SA was marginally significant in moderating the relation between FMBs and friendship satisfaction, such that FMBs may be a more important for friendship satisfaction among higher SA individuals. Finally, participants reported that their focus on strict reciprocity decreased as relationships became more intimate, but individuals with higher SA endorsed more concern over reciprocity than individuals lower in SA within all types of friendships and greater preoccupation with reciprocity predicted lower friendship satisfaction. Lower friendship satisfaction, in turn, predicted reduced well-being across several domains. These findings offer preliminary insights into potential reasons for lower friendship satisfaction among high SA individuals, providing clues about potential targets for developing interventions that could be used to help socially anxious clients improve aspects of their relationships and, in turn, enhance their life satisfaction and overall well-being.
Cite this version of the work
Vanja Vidovic (2019). What’s behind the link between social anxiety and low friendship satisfaction? Exploring the role of perceived closeness, self-disclosure, friendship maintenance behaviours, and relational reciprocity. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14920