Running Head: INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION<br />Friendship<br />[Name]<br />[Institution]<br />[Instructor]<br />[Course]<br />Introduction<br />The purpose of verbal communication in interpersonal relationships is to promote rewarding experiences. The ability to communicate in a way that acknowledges the individual as unique (Wright, 1984) enhances relationship development. Genuine communication, then, functions to promote rewarding relationships. Friendships are voluntary interpersonal relationships designed to be positive and rewarding experiences for the people involved. This paper will characterize friendship in sufficient detail to distinguish it from other interpersonal relationships, while at the same time leaving out more specific characterizations that may be more contentious.<br />Friendship<br />Friendship is a complex, multi-dimensional interpersonal relationship because people use several criteria to choose a friend depending on the different rewards they want met. Friends do things for each other and that contributes to the rewards experienced in the relationship. A functional perspective to relationship development describes what communication in the relationship does for people, what people want in a relationship, and how different types of relationships do different things for people (Burleson, 1995).<br />The possession of social skills contributes to friendship development. People develop friendships with others who possess social skills because skilled people have the ability to communicate in a way that fosters the relationship. When one source does not communicate well, people will seek other alternatives to fulfill needs (Lichtenstein & Rosenfeld, 1983). People who lack the social skills needed to communicate in a competent manner may become dissatisfied with the interpersonal interaction because they cannot communicate in a way that meets needs. Interpersonal needs still exist even though the interaction may not be rewarding, so unskilled people may use the media as a functional alternative source to fulfill interpersonal needs.<br />Friendship is a communication concept that can be studied in both interpersonal and media contexts from a functional perspective. Interpersonal friendship research focuses on the benefits received from the relationship and parasocial interaction is seen primarily as a functional alternative to interpersonal friendships (Hays, 1984). Interpersonal friendships are voluntary relationships people develop to meet needs. A friend is someone a person feels close to; however, this person is not a relative, spouse, or romantic partner (Bell, 1991). <br />A friend usually possesses certain qualities and abilities to perform behaviors that fulfill a person's needs. A person who has the ability to interact with others may choose an interpersonal friend who is perceived to have important communication skills that match the person's own skills. A person's own social skill level and affiliation for interpersonal interaction may be factors that affect the communication skills perceived as important for a friend to possess.<br />Friendship satisfaction is an outcome variable that develops when a friend's perceived communication skills fulfill needs. When needs are met, people experience positive affect that leads to satisfaction with the relationship (Hecht, 1978). Satisfaction occurs when the friendship produces positive affect. If interpersonal and/or parasocial friends are perceived as having communication skills that meet a person's needs, the person should find the friendship satisfying. A person's perception of life satisfaction may affect perceptions of friendship satisfaction. A positive outlook on life may encourage a person to seek out friends who support and comfort the person. The friends' communication skills reinforce the positive attitude and promote friendship satisfaction.<br />In interpersonal communication, satisfying one's needs is an important outcome. According to the functional perspective, need fulfillment is the reason why people develop friendships, and when needs are fulfilled, relationships are rewarding. Interpersonal communication can function to create emotional states, disperse information, change attitudes, or validate a self-concept (Berger & Bradac, 1982). Communication, then, helps friendships develop.<br />Communication helps people fulfill certain friendship needs. Hays (1984) and Wright (1969) used Lazarsfeld and Merton's (1954) functional description that friendships are unique social systems designed to meet needs. Wright (1974) defined friendship as "
a relationship involving voluntary interaction in which the commitment of the persons to one another usually takes precedence over their commitment to the contexts in which the interaction takes place, and in which they respond to one another as persons qua persons"
(p. 94). As unique relationships, friends fulfill functions such as companionship, communication, and consideration (Hays, 1984) as well as utility and ego-support (P. Wright, 1969, 1978).<br />Interpersonal friendships are voluntary relationships that meet different needs for people. The friendship can be a rewarding experience depending upon what people give to and get from the relationship. Fulfilled needs may be something a person receives from the friendship. Need fulfillment may explain the motivation for developing the relationship. Friendship satisfaction may be a consequence of behavior that fulfills needs. The functional approach considers how behaviors and communication skills produce friendship benefits.<br />P. Wright's (1969) friendship model provided the foundation for friendship research. The model's original dimensions included voluntary interdependence (choosing to spend time with another person without outside pressure); difficult to maintain (misunderstanding, arguments, and disagreement may exist); stimulation value (interesting and imaginative qualities are exhibited); utility value (cooperation and help are received to meet goals); and ego support value (encouragement, support, and no threat are expressed) (P. Wright, 1969, 1978).<br />Over the years, P. Wright (1978) expanded the model to include human behavior. Wright acknowledged the friendship model lacked a clear conception of the person's behavior, so he added the term person-qua-person to acknowledge human behavior as genuine, unique, and irreplaceable (Wright, 1974). Once again, Wright (1984) refined the model to include friendship strength and relationship differentiation. Based upon the current model, Wright categorized friendship variables as friendship strength (voluntary interdependence and person-qua-person), friendship values (ego support, self-affirmation, stimulation, security, and utility), relationship differentiation (exclusiveness, permanence, degree of social regulation, and salience of emotional expression), and maintenance difficulty. <br />People develop and maintain friendships because the experience is rewarding. Sincere dedication to another person without expecting anything in return contributes to commitment to the friendship. Personal concern then leads to self-referent rewards of enhanced individuality, self-affirmation, positive self-evaluation, and self-growth (Wright, 1977). The different types of rewards lead to friendship values such as ego support, self-affirmation, stimulation, security, and utility value (Wright, 1984).<br />Hays (1984) studied friendship behavior and intensity in relation to friendship levels of acquaintance, casual friend, close friend, and best friend. Hays found friends serve four functions: companionship involves sharing an activity together; consideration provides goods, services, and support; communication considers disclosure and information exchanged; and affection expresses emotional sentiment. Hays' friendship behaviors parallel P. Wright's (1969) friendship qualities of stimulation, utility, and ego support values.<br />Similarities in skills contribute to rewarding communication. Burleson and Samter (1996) found that friendship pairs with similar communication skills were less lonely than friendship pairs with dissimilar communication skills. Interactions with people of similar skill levels are viewed as interesting, stimulating, fun, and enjoyable, and interactions with people of dissimilar skill levels are viewed as boring, obnoxious, strained, awkward, and uninteresting (Burleson & Samter, 1996).<br />Thus far we have seen that a person's communication ability relates to the rewards received from the friendship. Friendship development, then, is based on what a friend does for an individual. The benefits received from the friendship encourages its development. Friendship functions research began with Wright's (1969) contribution of friendship rewards. Friendship functions research has expanded to include communication skills needed to fulfill functions (Burleson, 1995). The possession or deficit of interpersonal competence skills can affect the ability to meet needs.<br />Friendship Skills<br />Communication skills are imperative for friendship development and maintenance. Burleson and Samter (1990) studied how communication skills influence friendship quality and identified eight communication skills: (a) comforting (the ability to make the person feel better when depressed), (b) eoo support (the ability to help a friend feel good about her/himself), (c) conflict management (the ability to develop mutually satisfying solutions), (d) persuasion (the ability to influence another individual's thoughts and behaviors), (e) referential (the ability to communicate information clearly), (f) regulative (the ability to help someone who violated a social norm), (g) narrative (the ability to tell stories), and (h) conversational (the ability to begin, maintain, and end conversations) (Burleson & Samter, 1990). People value friends who possess different combinations of the eight communication skills.<br />Burleson (1995) suggested skills and functions are terms people use interchangeably. Meeting a friend's needs is based upon her/his ability to communicate in a way that meets the needs. To fulfill relationship functions, a person must possess the skills necessary to accomplish the task that meets the person's needs (Burleson, 1995). Burleson and Samter (1990) developed measures the eight communication skills. Some of the communication skills parallel interpersonal communication competence skills. Both address supportiveness and conversational or interaction management. Thus, interpersonally competent people enact behaviors people perceive as important communication skills a friend should possess.<br />The eight communication skills can be described as affectively oriented and nonaffectively-oriented skills. Affectively oriented communication skills include comfort, conflict management, regulation, and ego-support. Nonaffectively oriented communication skills include persuasion, referential, conversational, and narrative ability (Burleson & Samter, 1990). Samter (1992) found people who considered affectively-oriented communication skills important were considered popular by their friends than people who did not consider affectively oriented communication skills as important. Affectively oriented communication skills were related to interpersonal acceptance for women and nonaffectively oriented skills were related to interpersonal acceptance for men because women tend to discuss feelings and relationships with friends and men's friendships are activity centered (Samter & Burleson, 1990).<br />The possession of different social skills may change over the life span. As a person ages, the tasks a friend is expected to perform may change. As Burleson (1995) noted, "
the functions, tasks, and skills associated with a particular relationship vary according to the development stage of both the relationship and those involved in that relationship"
(p. 579). Although chronological age affects developmental stages of relationships, the psychological and situational conditions associated with contextual age also may affect skills necessary for relationship development.<br />Conclusion<br />Friendship is a personal relationship of mutual goodwill, trust, care, and respect, between people who like each other for their sakes, in which mutual liking is a primary reason for the relationship's creation and continuance. That short definitional phrase is sufficient to set some limits on the phenomena to be considered. People may be related as fellow citizens, believers, family members, or club members, to take but a few examples. Often, people connected in such ways will feel some degree of positive regard for each other. Those ties, however, depend for their origin and usually their continuance on something other than interpersonal liking.<br />References<br />Burleson, B. R., & Samter, W. (1990). Effects of cognitive complexity on the perceived importance of communication skills in friends. Communication Research. 17. 165-182.<br />Burleson, B. R. (1995). Personal relationships as a skilled accomplishment. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 12. 575-581.<br />Hays, R. B. (1984). The development and maintenance of friendship. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 1, 75-98.<br />Hecht, M. L. (1978). The conceptualization and measurement of interpersonal communication satisfaction. Human Communication Research. 4. 252-264.<br />Lichtenstein, A., & Rosenfeld, L. B. (1983). Uses and misuses of gratifications research: An explication of media functions. Communication Research. 10. 97-109.<br />Samter, W. (1992). Communicative characteristics of the lonely person's friendship circle. Communication Research. 19, 212-239.<br />Wright, P. H. (1977). Perspective on the psychology of self. Psychological Reports. 40. 423-436.<br />Wright, P. H. (1978). Toward a theory of friendship based on a conception of self. Human Communication Research,4, 196-207.<br />Wright, P. H. (1984). Self-referent motivation and the intrinsic quality of friendship. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 1. 115-130.<br />