J Happiness Stud DOI 10.

1007/s10902-012-9341-7 RESEARCH PAPER

Toward a Better Understanding of the Relationship Between Friendship and Happiness: Perceived Responses to Capitalization Attempts, Feelings of Mattering, and Satisfaction of Basic Psychological Needs in SameSex Best Friendships as Predictors of Happiness
Meliks ¸ ah Demir • Ingrid Davidson

Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Abstract Friendship is a consistent correlate of happiness, yet less is known about the associations of friendship specific experiences and feelings with happiness. In this study (n = 4,382) the roles of perceived responses to capitalization attempts, perceived mattering to and satisfaction of basic psychological needs in same-sex best friendships in happiness among men and women were investigated. Findings showed that although all of the friendship variables were positively associated with happiness to varying degrees, basic needs satisfaction emerged as the strongest predictor of happiness. Additional analyses revealed that competence need satisfaction was the most important need predicting happiness. Importantly, these findings were gender invariant. The findings were discussed in light of theory and empirical literature and suggestions were made for future research. Keywords Capitalization Á Ethnic groups Á Friendship Á Happiness Á Perceived mattering Á Psychological needs satisfaction Á Same-sex best friendship

1 Introduction Friendship plays an essential role in the lives of individuals and is an important correlate of happiness. Since the first empirical work investigating the correlates of happiness (Watson 1930), decades of theoretical and empirical work in the scientific literature on happiness consistently documented the robust association between various friendship indices (having a friend, number of friends, friendship satisfaction, friendship support and intimacy, overall friendship quality) and happiness (e.g., Baldassare et al. 1984; Campbell et al. 1976; Requena 1995; Sheldon and Tan 2007; Wilson 1967). Importantly, the friendship-happiness link has been observed across age, ethnic and cultural groups with several methods, including observational and longitudinal assessments (for a review see Demir et al., in press). Although the current literature leaves no doubt regarding the friendship-happiness link, knowing that the individual has a close friend or enjoys
M. Demir (&) Á I. Davidson Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA e-mail: Meliksah.Demir@nau.edu

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varying degrees of support and intimacy in the friendship, which has been a main focus of past empirical research, does not provide any information about how the specific friendship experiences or the general feelings about the friendship are associated with happiness. For instance, do positive responses one receives from a same-sex best friend upon sharing a positive event relate to happiness? Does the feeling that one matters to her same-sex best friend have any implications for happiness? What is the role of satisfying one’s basic psychological needs in a friendship in individual happiness? Since past studies overwhelmingly focused on number of friends or general friendship quality (e.g., support), less is known about the associations of friendship specific experiences and feelings with happiness. The present study aimed to address this limitation of the current literature by examining the roles of three friendship specific experiences in happiness. Specifically, the first aim of the present investigation was to examine the roles of perceived response to one’s capitalization attempts, perceived mattering to the best friend, and satisfaction of basic psychological needs in a same-sex best friendship in individual happiness. In doing so, we also investigated which of these three friendship variables made the strongest contribution to happiness. Recent studies and theoretical arguments suggest that close relationships have stronger associations with happiness among women when compared to men (e.g., SaphireBernstein and Taylor, in press). Accordingly, the second goal of the study was to examine whether the three friendship variables had similar implications for the happiness of men and women. 1.1 Happiness It is imperative to describe what is meant by happiness and how it is assessed in the present study before the relationships between happiness and the study variables are reviewed. This is especially important considering the fact that recent and past empirical studies investigating the friendship-happiness link defined and measured happiness in different ways (Chaplin 2009; Cheng and Furnham 2002; Ellison 1990; Gladow and Ray 1986; Requena 1995; Schiffrin and Nelson 2010). Happiness is the cognitive and affective evaluations of one’s own life and consists of global life satisfaction, presence of positive affect, and absence of negative affect (Diener et al. 1999). The present investigation focused on the affective component of happiness. This was because of the arguments suggesting that the two components of happiness (cognitive and affect) are different constructs and require different lines of research to understand each one individually (e.g., Diener et al. 1999; Lent 2004). Also, and more importantly, it has been argued that friendship, as an emotional bond, would be strongly related to the affective dimension of happiness compared to the cognitive dimension ¨ zdemir 2010; Demir and Weitekamp 2007). Accordingly, the present study (Demir and O investigated the affective dimension of happiness and defined happiness as the predominance of positive affect over negative affect (Diener et al. 1999). Since the seminal works of Watson (1930) and others (Diener 1984; Wilson 1967), several correlates, causes, and consequences of happiness have been identified (e.g., Argyle 2001; Lyubomirsky et al. 2005; Sheldon and Tan 2007). The focus of the current investigation was on friendship experiences, a well-established correlate and predictor of individual happiness. In the following sections, we first present a theoretical account of friendship and then provide a detailed theoretical and empirical review of the associations between the constructs of the present study and happiness.

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in press). support) in or overall quality of the friendship and happiness (Baldassare et al.g. emotional security. the empirical knowledge about the relationship specific feelings and experiences in the friendship that are related to happiness is limited. Specifically.g. Researchers either focus on the number of friends one has or various relationship provisions when investigating the association of friendship with happiness.. For instance.... That is.2 Friendship and Happiness Friendship is a voluntary interdependence between two individuals that includes the experience and satisfaction of various provisions (e. Gladow and Ray 1986. When the focus is on relationship provisions. Demir and Weitekamp 2007.g. Berry and Hansen 1996.g. how frequently one interacts with a friend. Weiss 1974). Cheng and Furnham 2002. That is.g. Mendelson and Aboud 1999). For instance. As Wellman (1992) aptly put it. Demir and Weitekamp 2007. Berscheid and Reis 1998.Toward a Better Understanding 1. intimacy.. Lyubomirsky 2008. Taylor 2010). Lu 1995. Hussong 2000. we do not know the extent to which receiving positive responses from a same-sex best friend or the degree that one satisfies his/her basic psychological needs in the friendship are related to individual happiness. Cooper et al. Burt 1987) were positively related to individual happiness (for a review see Demir et al. Such an empirical focus would not be complete without the 123 .. considering friendship only as an intimate or supportive bond would limit ‘‘one’s worldview to a California hot tub (p. We elaborate on this point in detail below. available research does not address the associations of specific friendship experiences with happiness. but are not limited to. Requena 1995) and frequency of interactions with a friend (e. research showed that friendship satisfaction (e.. Empirical research also investigated various indices of friendship. 1984. companionship. number of friends (e. assessments include the degree of satisfaction with or the frequency of the experience of various relationship provisions (e. Yet. although friendship intimacy and overall friendship quality are related to happiness. Theory suggests that individuals seek to experience and satisfy these different provisions in their friendships (Cutrona and Russell 1987. Demir et al. 1999). Rojas 2006).’’ We also believe that having an exclusive focus on the number of friends. Decades of empirical research consistently reported a positive association between the satisfaction of a single provision (e. though. Furman and Buhrmester 1985. Camfield et al.g.g. 104). support) is the reason friendships are related to happiness (Argyle 2001. is that friendship involves not only the satisfaction of various provisions but also various relationship specific experiences and feelings. it has been argued that satisfaction of these various provisions (companionship.. 1992. and how frequently one experiences and satisfies various provisions in a friendship would implicitly suggest these indices of friendship as the main routes for happiness. Diener and Biswas-Diener 2008. Walen and Lachman 2000). Weiss 1974). There is no doubt that the empirical investigation of the friendship-happiness link significantly enhanced our understanding of the role of friendships in individual happiness. Argyle 2001. Reis 2001. Demir and Weitekamp 2007. These provisions include. intimacy) in the friendship (e. friendship does not only entail receiving support or experiencing intimacy but also includes a diverse set of relationship experiences such as the degree to which basic psychological needs are satisfied in the friendship. This is acknowledged in the reviews of the literature (e.. support.g. in press. intimacy) to varying degrees (Hays 1988.. 2009. This reasonable focus on theoretical provisions also influences the theoretical arguments explaining why friends are important for happiness. Diener et al. One essential point to remember. and self-validation.

validated and cared for (Laurenceau et al. Maisel et al. and passive-destructive (PD). Gable and Reis 2001. The following example displays these different responses. who has been unemployed for more than a year after receiving her Ph. I am very happy for you.g.’’ Finally. 2006. Pinquart ¨ rensen 2000. AC responses entail giving enthusiastic reactions to one’s capitalization attempts. according to the theory and research. individuals experience better psychosocial outcomes when the responses of their friends make them feel understood. p. Reis et al.’’ 123 .D. Rusbult et al.. psychological needs satisfaction) in happiness.. gets a job offer.M. 2004. support and support vs. This is referred to as capitalization and defined as ‘‘the process of informing another person about the occurrence of a personal positive event and thereby deriving additional benefit from it’’ (Gable et al. the current investigation examined the roles of three relatively new social relationship constructs in individual happiness: perceived responses to one’s capitalization attempts. What would she do? According to theory and empirical research. 2004). it is essential to categorize these responses and investigate their implications for happiness. Gable et al. 2010) point out that perceiving the responses of the friend as positive and supportive (recognizing and validating the importance of the event) are equally important in influencing the benefits one might receive from this process. Gable and her colleagues (e. I. The present study also examined which of the three friendship specific experiences make the biggest contribution to happiness. Finally. This approach has the potential to delineate which friendship specific experience(s) is the most critical one for happiness. and satisfaction of basic psychological needs. Gable and her colleagues (Gable et al. Rook 1987) to understand which aspects and features of friendship and So matter most for happiness. Davidson consideration of the roles of various friendship experiences (e. e. Considering the fact that one might receive a variety of different responses upon sharing a positive event with a friend. perceived mattering.g. companionship. Reis and Shaver 1988). PC reactions include silent and modest support responses. Kate. 2004. Demir and Weitekamp 2007) and various relationship provisions (intimacy vs.g. Kate might react active-constructively if she states ‘‘That is terrific news.g.’’ She might respond activedestructively by saying ‘‘I heard that that university is accepting every applicant. relying on past research on reactions to conflict in close relationships (e. 2008.. In order to address this limitation. active-destructive (AD). Research shows that when individuals share positive events with significant others they experience increases in their happiness even when controlling for the valence of the positive events (Gable et al. We consider this an essential empirical task since past research regularly compares the roles of friendship quantity to overall quality (e. a passive-destructive response of Kate might be ‘‘I have a date tonight.. AD responses degrade the importance of the event and highlight potential problems with the positive event. Jessica tells her same-sex best friend. PD reactions involve not showing an interest and ignoring the event.1 Perceived Responses to Capitalization Attempts Imagine that Jessica. This is because.’’ She could provide a passiveconstructive response if she smiles and says ‘‘That is cool. Demir. so it is not a big deal. 228). 1998.. passive-constructive (PC). Langston 1994). she is going to share this event with significant others in her social network (a friend).g. 1991) identified four types of responses to capitalization attempts: active-constructive (AC). that she received a job offer. 2 Friendship Specific Experiences 2. 2004. Let’s go out and celebrate. Although sharing positive events with friends is associated with one’s happiness above and beyond the valence of the event itself.. 2004.

Marshall 2001). Similar findings were obtained in a cross-cultural ˘ an and Demir 2009). 2011. empirical research recently started investigating the psychosocial well-being correlates and consequences of perceived mattering to significant others (Demir et al. 2004. friend). the friend going the extra mile to spend time with the individual) (Demir et al. feelings of mattering to significant others are positively associated 123 .g. 2004.g. only recently have scholars provided conceptual as opposed to phenomenological definitions and focused on measurement issues. The construct of interpersonal mattering addresses these feelings (Dixon Rayle 2005. mattering denotes a sense of belonging and relatedness and highlights the feelings of significance and relevance to specific significant others (Demir et al. Mak and Marshall 2004. it was reported that only study on friendship as well (Dog active-constructive responses were positively related to same-sex friendship quality and happiness among young adults in Turkey and the USA. happiness) revealed that of the four responses. Rosenberg 1985). Dixon Rayle and Chung 2007). happiness) (Dog Gable et al. 2011. 2006). interpersonal mattering is defined as ‘‘the psychological tendency to evaluate the self as significant to specific other people’’ (Marshall 2001.. The other three responses were negatively related to these wellbeing indices (Gable et al. 2004). That is. Specifically. friends) in the past decade can be summarized by three major points. In empirical research. with higher levels of psychological well-being (e. Also. Rosenberg 1985). 474). Specifically.g. Third. 2011. Marshall 2001). Gable and her colleagues created a composite score of capitalization by subtracting the scores for the three responses (AD. This composite score was used in the present study when investigating the role of perceived responses to capitalization attempts in happiness. First. Considering the consistent relationships between the responses to capitalization attempts and well-being and in an attempt to simplify the presentation of responses.’’ (Gable et al. p.. it was predicted that the composite capitalization score would be positively associated with happiness. The theoretical and empirical research on perceived mattering to significant others (e. Dixon Rayle and Chung 2007.Toward a Better Understanding Empirical research investigating the relationships of perceived responses to capitalization attempts with relationship (e.. The composite score indicates ‘‘more positive and less negative responses to capitalization attempts. Dixon Rayle 2005.. friends. PD) from the active-constructive scores..g.g.2 Perceived Mattering There are times in any close relationship when the individual is concerned about her mattering to the significant other. 2004) and through various relationship experiences (e. Rosenberg and McCullough 1981. 234). Elliott et al. and things (Elliott et al. whereas the other three responses were negatively associated with these outcomes. 2. Second. composite capitalization score was associated ˘ an and Demir 2009. p. mattering to another person is not about the quality of a relationship but the self-perceived relevance to a significant other (e. comparing the attention they receive from the person in question to the amount of attention that specific person gives to other activities.g. PC. individuals develop a sense of mattering to significant others by focusing on their past relationship experiences (Marshall 2001). Although mattering to significant others constitues an important aspect of self-concept that has received considerable theoretical attention from scholars in different fields for several decades (Coopersmith 1967. only active-constructive reactions were positively associated with well-being.. In light of the consistent findings obtained in empirical research. 2004. quality) and individual well-being (e. The individual might wonder about her standing on the list of things and relationships the friend cares about.

Ryan and Deci 2000).g. 2000. Recent empirical research also investigated the association between perceived mattering to friends and positive psychological well-being. 2.. Dixon Rayle (2005) and Marshall (2001) have reported that individuals who perceive that they matter to their friends reported higher levels of well-being (e.g. One theoretical issue that might inevitably arise in the investigation of basic psychological needs in predicting well-being outcomes pertains to the importance of one need over the other. Basic needs theory (BNT) is concerned with three basic psychological needs and examines the link between people’s satisfaction of these needs and psychosocial well-being. Indeed.g. 2011) showed that mattering to friends was positively associated with happiness. of which the present investigation focused on basic psychological needs theory.M. fundamental and innate basic human needs (Deci and Ryan 2000). Consistent with the theoretical arguments. Autonomy refers to feelings of agency. 1996. some investigators focused on the predictive ability of the overall needs satisfaction (e. I. Davidson with various indices of well-being (e. For instance. Competence refers to feelings of efficacy and being capable (Ryan and Deci 2000). 2004. Schieman and Taylor 2001. Deci and Ryan 2000) attempts to elucidate on why and how people perform certain behaviors. it was predicted that basic psychological needs satisfaction in a same-sex best friendship would be positively related to happiness. autonomy. which one is the strongest predictor of happiness? In the literature. 2001). 2000). Vansteenkiste et al. In the present study.g. competence and relatedness are three universal... La Guardia et al. Deci and Ryan 2002). Reis et al. it was predicted that perceived mattering to a same-sex best friend would be positively associated with happiness. BNT proposes that all of these needs have to be satisfied in order to experience optimal well-being (Deci and Ryan 2000). Of particular importance for the purposes of the present study. According to theory. Sheldon et al. self-esteem) (Connolly and Myers 2002. Patrick et al.g. Considering the available evidence.. Several empirical studies investigated the satisfaction of the basic needs in daily experiences. and developing close relationships with them (Baumeister and Leary 1995. these three needs were rated among the four most important needs by college students in different cultures (Sheldon et al. Demir and his colleagues (Demir et al. 2006. SDT consists of four mini theories. relatedness refers to feeling connected to and cared for by others. Taylor and Turner 2001). 2006. Demir and O La Guardia et al.g. More importantly. 2007. volition and involves initiating one’s own actions (Deci and Ryan 1985). 2000). The theory further suggests that satisfaction of these needs in general or in close relationships have important implications for the well-being of the individual (e. in a variety of different close relationships (parent–child and romantic relationships) and contexts (e. of the three needs.3 Basic Psychological Needs Satisfaction Self-Determination Theory (SDT.. Elliott et al. 2005. Demir. Finally. 2006). these studies showed a positive association between needs satisfaction and happiness (Chirkov et al. sports). we were first concerned with the relationship of overall psychological needs satisfaction with happiness. relatedness) (e. was positively related to individual happiness (Deci et al.. Wilson et al. Dixon Rayle and Chung 2007. whereas others examined not only overall needs satisfaction but also individual needs (e. a few studies also showed that satisfaction of these basic psychological needs in a friendship ¨ zdemir 2010. In light of the empirical evidence. If the findings showed that overall psychological needs 123 .. 2005).g. Wei et al. self-esteem). That is. and the effects of these processes on psychosocial well-being.

which clearly shows that friendship quality and these specific friendship experiences tap into different aspects of the relationship. These studies yield correlations in the r = .20–. Diener et al. Myers and Diener 1995). The literature on gender differences in friendship (e. would benefit more from their friendship experiences.g. friendship satisfaction. Since this is the first study to simultaneously investigate these friendship experiences. Accordingly. 2006. Also.. overall quality) commonly studied in the literature (e. women having higher quality friendships when compared to men) resulted in arguments suggesting that women. friendship experiences and the friendship variables investigated in the present study.. we did not have any specific predictions. Overall.g.g. we provide an overall review of the literature concerning gender differences in the social relationships-happiness link. 2. perceived mattering) are positively associated with different indices of friendship (e..g. receiving positive ˘ an and Demir 2009) or promote these relationship specific responses from a friend) (Dog ¨ zdemir 2010). it has been argued that overall friendship quality might be a consequence of certain relationship experiences (e. Deci et al. As explained earlier..g. Then. men and women differ from each other in terms of the intensity of emotional experiences (Fujita et al. we examined the relative importance of these variables in happiness. they are very small and considered as negligible (Haring et al.60 range. mattering). Men and women do not considerably differ from each other on happiness. Demir 2011. One essential theoretical issue to consider is that the friendship variables investigated in the present study are ultimately related to the overall quality of the friendship.g. 1999). it was predicted that no gender differences would be obtained on happiness. Logically. All in all.. 1991). one has to have a friendship in the first place to develop a perception of these various relationship specific feelings and experiences (e. Marshall 2001). The next section addresses this issue in detail. Rather.g.. this practice will help determine which particular friendship experience matters most for individual happiness. both men and women are equally likely to report being happy (e. In this section we first review the literature on gender differences in happiness. When differences are found. Then. 1984. 123 . Demir and O experiences examined in the present study are not redundant with friendship quality or other indices of friendship. This first aim of this investigation was to confirm and establish these associations in a large sample of college students. The second goal of this study was to investigate whether the associations between the friendship variables and happiness were similar across the two sexes. On the other hand. only then would we examine the role of individual psychological needs in predicting happiness.g. The growing literature investigating various friendship specific experiences has shown that these variables (e. 2002). they tap into relationship experiences not covered by the measures commonly used in the literature investigating the friendship-happiness link. Overall. compared to men. Empirical research suggests that gender is not an important variable in predicting happiness (Demir and Weitekamp 2007... only a handful of studies have shown that these three friendship specific feelings and experiences are positively associated with happiness.4 Gender Differences in Friendship Experiences and Happiness Any investigation of close relationships and how these intimate exchanges might be differentially related to individual happiness would not be complete without taking gender differences into account. Diener et al. the specific friendship feelings and feelings (e.Toward a Better Understanding satisfaction was the strongest predictor of happiness when compared to the other relationship-specific experiences.

Nangle et al. Antonucci and Akiyama 1987.g. So In the case of friendship. 1997). 1995. 2. 2006. an important point to consider is whether these differences in friendship experiences translate into the associations of these variables with happiness. 2001) whereas other studies provided evidence supporting the opposite pattern (e. Some studies found support for the idea that friendship experiences are more important for the adjustment of women than men (e. in press). Yet. Not surprisingly. happiness) of both sexes (Cohen et al. 2002. Proulx et al. The reasoning behind this argument has been that since relationships play a more important role in the lives of women than men and women experience higher quality relationships compared to men. Jenkins et al. No predictions were made regarding the relative importance of these variables in happiness since no study to date examined these friendship experiences simultaneously. Demir and Orthel 2011.g.. are the relationships between friendship experiences and happiness stronger among women when compared to men? Decades of empirical research on gender differences in close relationships and in friendships in particular led to the arguments that women. for a review see Saphire-Bernstein and Taylor. compared to men. active-constructive) following the sharing of a positive event with a significant other ˘ an and Demir 2009. The majority of the studies on this topic. however. 2007. Patrick et al. it was predicted that satisfaction of basic psychological needs.. similar gender differences have been obtained for the variables of the present study. however.5 Summary of the Hypotheses In light of the literature. 2007. the majority of empirical research showed that the associations of friendship experiences with happiness are similar across the two sexes.. report higher levels of perceived mattering and needs satisfaction in their friendships and other close relationships (Marshall 2001. it was predicted that the associations of the study variables with happiness would be similar among men and women. when compared to men. Walen and Lachman 2000). I. the findings have been inconsistent. for reviews and theoretical explanations accounting for this difference see Winstead et al. Considering the gender differences in friendship experiences. Demir. women.. Empirical research focusing on marital quality and the quantity of social networks in old adulthood were consistent with this idea such that these relationship indices had stronger associations with happiness among women in comparison to men (Pinquart and ¨ rensen 2000. Patrick et al. see Ryan et al. Gable et al. reported that friendship experiences are similarly related to the well-being (e. 1986. Demir and Urberg 2004).g. As the review above suggests. Davidson One of the well-established finding in the literature on gender differences in friendship is that the same-sex best friendships of women are higher in overall quality when compared to men (King and Terrance 2008. they should experience higher levels of psychological wellbeing. 2000). That is. perceived mattering to the friend and perceived responses to one’s capitalization attempts would be positively associated with individual happiness and the associations of these variables with happiness would be similar among men and women. 2003. Accordingly. report receiving more positive responses (e.g. 123 . compared to men. the literature regarding gender differences in the friendship-happiness link has been inconsistent. experience the benefits and costs of relationships rather strongly (Burks et al. (2005) for a null finding).M. As for perceived responses to capitalization attempts. Oldenburg and Kerns 1997). (romantic partner or friend) (Dog Research also found that women. Roy et al.

First. the final sample consisted of 4. O’Meara 1989).1 Assessment of Best Friendships In an attempt to prevent any potential ambiguities in the meaning of friendship (Reisman 1981). 2007). students who wanted to participate in the study were provided with a link to the survey after signing up for the study. Mage = 18. sexual tension) (Monsour 2002. Following the definition. The rate for not having a ¨ zdemir 2010. and it (Demir and O is difficult to maintain cross-sex friendships for various reasons (e. The present study focused on same-sex best friendships because theory and empircial research suggest that best friendships usually involve same-sex peers ¨ zdemir 2010. 3. Richey and Richey 1980).. the participants across semesters did not differ from each other on the demographic variables (age. emotion regulation).g. SD = 1. Laursen and Bukowski 1997.Toward a Better Understanding 3 Method 3. the study was announced via the department’s online research participation system. The ethnic distribution of the sample was as follows: 59 % European American. It is important to note that there was not any connection between the sign-ups for the study and the survey. The following specific procedures were consistently employed across the semesters..130 men. Demir same-sex best friend is consistent with past research (Demir and O et al. The participants completed questionnaires other than the ones reported below (e.283 college students (1. Participants had to agree to an informed consent prior to completing the questionnaires.g. and more importantly.g. 7 % (n = 339) did not report having a same-sex best friend and 4.2 Procedure The data for this study were gathered online across five academic semesters (2009–2011).44. Of the participants. Second. a participant who completed the survey earlier was not allowed to participate in the same study.1 Participants The original sample consisted of 4. 3. Completion of the survey lasted for about 30 min and participants received extra credit for their psychology classes. 24 % Latino American. the majority of the participants were freshmen (79 %).840 college students attending a Southwestern university in the US. 3 % Native American and 5 % mixed or other. the order of the questionnaires was counterbalanced. p. In the survey.3 Measures 3. 4 % African American. That is. Also. participants were asked to indicate whether they had a same-sex best friend. In other words. but only the constructs relevant for the purposes of the present investigation are reported. ranging from 18–29 years). They were cautioned not to consider their romantic partner as a friend or to include any close friend they had any type of sexual involvement with or romantic interest in. 195). It is important to note that the online research participation system relied on the recruitment of the participants controls for repeated participation in the study. the participants were provided a definition of friendship (Demir and Weitekamp 2007. happiness).81. respondents remained anonymous. Also..3. With the exclusion of these participants. Although young adults in college develop and maintain 123 .5 % (n = 218) did not complete all of the measures. ethnicity) and their scores on the study variables (e. 5 % Asian American.

23. The PRCA consists of 12 items assessing four types of responses with three items each: active constructive (AC). in order to simplify the presentation of the scale and be consistent with earlier research (Demir 2011. active destructive (AD).75 to .’’. perceived mattering to the friend.11. 2004. 3. MTOQ assesses the degree of perceived mattering to significant others. A high composite score indicates more active-constructive and less passive-destructive responses. Marshall 2001).85) and women (a = . Gable et al. Consistent findings were obtained in the present study for happiness for both men and women (correlations of AC.32. Gable et al.130) = . . -.03. Demir. Participants were asked to rate each item on a 7-point scale (1 = not at all true through 7 = very true) using the stem. participants were asked to indicate how they think their same-sex best friends were thinking about them. . 2006). 2007. Demir and O As explained above. -.55) months for their best friendships.05. -. all values significant at the p \ .83). As individual happiness (Demir 2011.27.g. The instrument consists of 11 123 . respectively).M. (2004) was used to measure participants’ perceptions of their same-sex best friends’ (SSBF) typical responses to the sharing of positive events.05.20. AD response ‘‘My same-sex best friend often finds a problem with it.3.80 ˘ an and Demir and the internal consistency of the subscales ranged from . I. Previous research has shown that the composite capitalization score was positively associated with relationship quality. but I know he/she is happy for me. 3. Davidson opposite-sex friendships (Monsour 2002). In the present study. and PD response ‘‘My same-sex best friend doesn’t pay much attention to me.51 (SD = 49. passive constructive (PC).81 (Dog 2009. and may even consider them as their best friends.’’. The duration of the friendship was not related to basic psychological needs. Women: n (3. 2004) a composite capitalization score was created by subtracting the mean of the PC. -. Dog for reliability. Accordingly. 2004). ‘‘When I tell my same-sex best friend about something good that has happened to me…. the overall scale had acceptable reliability for both men (a = .19. and happiness (rs . perceived responses to one’s capitalization attempts.’’. Past research has shown that only AC responses are positively associated with psychosocial well-being (e. These individuals were excluded from the analyses. Gable et al. whereas the other three responses are negatively correlated with relationship and individual well-being (Demir 2011. Sample items for the subscales include: AC response ‘‘I sometimes get the sense that my same-sex best friend is even more happy and excited than I am. -. happiness). In the present investigation.’’ A mean of items assessing different types of responses was taken to create the subscale composite scores. and .3 Perceived Mattering Perceived mattering to the same-sex best friend was assessed with the Mattering to Others Questionnaire (MTOQ. it has been reported that the overall scale had Cronbach’s alphas above .25. Sheets and Lugar 2005).. and passive destructive (PD). an overwhelming majority of young adults’ best and several closest friends are ¨ zdemir 2010.2 Responses to Capitalization Attempts The Perceived Responses to Capitalization Attempts scale (PRCA) of Gable et al.03.3.153) = . Participants in the final sample reported a mean duration of 70. satisfaction (friends and romantic partners) and ˘ an and Demir 2009. PC response ‘‘My same-sex best friend says little. 7 % of the sample did not report having a same-sex best friend. Gable et al. and PD subscales from the AC subscale. same-sex (Demir et al. 2004).18. AD.’’. -. PC.01 level). AD and PD with happiness were: Men: r (1.

Respondents were asked to rate the extent to which they feel each mood in general on a 5-point scale from very slightly or not all (1) to extremely (5). 3.g. 7 = very true). Higher scores indicate higher levels of mattering. O 2011). The scale consists of 9 items and assesses each need with 3 items. the internal Demir and O consistencies of the autonomy. Lyubomirsky and Lepper 1999. Swami et al. ¨ zen et al. 2006. 2005). Nine of the items (e.g. Prior studies also relied on this instrument to assess happiness (e. Also. rejection).65 to . Items are rated on a 7-point scale (1 = not at all true.5 Happiness The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) (Watson et al. For instance.91 among men and women). 5 = a lot) and two items ask the respondent to indicate where they would stand on a list (1 = bottom.g. relationship closeness. 1988) was used to assess happiness. Higher scores indicate higher levels of needs satisfaction in the friendship. As for reliability.75.94) (e. The positive and negative affect internal consistency (e... Composite scores for the subscales were created by taking the mean of respective items (after reverse coding certain items).g. 2009. quality) and happiness (Deci et al.4 Basic Psychological Needs Satisfaction The Need Satisfaction Scale (La Guardia et al.g. the scale has shown to be positively associated with self-esteem. and ‘‘When I am with my same-sex best friend I feel a lot of closeness and intimacy’’ (relatedness).g. . Demir and O scales are related to other scales measuring different aspects of well-being (e.3. In the present study. Marshall 2001).e. Marshall (2001) provided structural and external validity information for the MTOQ.Toward a Better Understanding items. For example. competence and relatedness needs in their samesex best friendships.. respectively. In the present study. 3.g. Past research has shown that the MTOQ has strong internal consistency among adolescents and young adults (Demir et al. 2000). . La Guardia et al. . The realibility of the entire scale was acceptable for both men (a = . 2000) was used to assess the extent to which the participants satisfied their autonomy.82 for women. 2011.. ¨ zdemir 2010. social support and purpose in life while being negatively related to negative friendship experiences (e.76.g.g. attentive) and 10 for negative affect (NA) (e.. satisfaction.3. Sample items are as follows: ‘‘When I am with my same-sex best friend I feel free to be who I am’’ (autonomy). it has been reported that global assessment of one’s 123 . Watson et al. ‘‘When I am with my same-sex best friend I feel like a competent person’’ (competence). 1988). PANAS is a well-known and commonly used instrument to assess happiness with good ¨ zdemir 2010). ‘‘I feel special to my same-sex best friend’’. . La Guardia et al. hostile).80 for men and .74. 5 = top) if their friend made a list of things he/she thinks and cares about.76. past research has shown that not only the subscales but also the overall scale had acceptable internal consistencies (alphas ranging from . depression) in the expected directions (e.78) and women (a = ... competence and relatedness subscales were . item ratings across the eleven items are summed to create the Perceived Mattering to Best Friend composite score (a was .80).. Sheldon et al. ‘‘I matter to my same-sex best friend’’) are rated on a 5-point scale (1 = not at all. The PANAS consists of 10 mood states for positive affect (PA) (e. Previous research using the scale to assess satisfaction of needs in friendships showed that overall needs satisfaction was positively associated with relationship well-being (i.. 2000. a composite basic psychological needs satisfaction score was computed by taking the mean of all items.

.36 -.29 .282) = -14.82 for women). It has been suggested that squared semipartial correlation is one of the most useful ways to assess the importance of an Table 1 Means.60).78 .96 -2.01).43 . p \ . On the other hand. Swami et al..26 .29.65 3. All of the correlations are significant at the . p = .01.451. Composite positive and negative affect scores were computed by taking the mean of the respective items.37 .322) and the composite happiness score (t(4.33 . p = .282) = .32 .99 1.74 3. and capitalization scores (t(4. NA: . these findings generally support the hypotheses.51 . mattering) in the dependent variable (happiness) when other variables are controlled.58 3..05 Women . Overall. Analyses investigating gender differences on the study variables revealed that women. Negative affect 6.64 .66 . standard deviations. Mattei and Schaefer 2004. Needs satisfaction 2. and correlations of the study variables Variables 1 2 3 4 5 6 M Men 1.26 -.20 .282) = -17. Happiness – .1 The Importance of Friendship Experiences in Happiness In deciding the relative importance of one variable over the other we relied on the beta weights and semi-partial correlations obtained from the regression analyses.154) below the diagonal.47 . reported significantly higher levels of basic psychological needs satisfaction (t(4.77 -. Demir. Also. all of the study variables were positively and significantly associated with happiness for both men and women to varying degrees.29 .61 3. Positive affect 5. p = .19 -.g. NA (t(4.89 3.88 for men and .43 – . Capitalization 4.38 -. as seen in the table.g.52 .60 .01.50).18 .04 Correlations for men (n = 1.84 for men and . p \ . d = .32 . The association of needs satisfaction with happiness was significantly higher among men when compared to women (z = 7.19 – -. The squared form of the semi-partial correlation provides the percent of full variance uniquely accounted for by the independent variable (e.73 Women 6.70 1.21 – -. Following the theoretical arguments about the predominance of positive affect over negative affect in defining happiness (e.01.82 .769.32 -.04 4. d = .60 – .67 1. 4 Results Descriptive statistics and correlations for the study variables are reported in Table 1.15 -. women (n = 3.869. compared to men.131) are reported above the diagonal.M.g.70 1.53 .85 for women. 2009).729).282) = .76 -.42 . 4.991. Perceived mattering 3.385). p \ . Diener 1984). Subjective Happiness Scale) is moderately and positively related to PA and negatively associated with NA (e. an affect balance score was created by subtracting the standardized negative affect composite scores from positive affect.. d = .66).282) = -. Fisher’s z-tests revealed only one significant difference in the magnitude of these associations across the sexes.80 – 5.69 1.70 SD Men . I.97 1.86 .451. The internal consistencies of the scales in the present study were satisfactory (PA: . p \ .g. there were no significant differences between the sexes on PA (t(4. Davidson happiness (e.59 .45 .347.33 -.282) = -19.01 level 123 . perceived mattering (t(4.

49* . we examined whether the moderate to high correlations between the study variables raised any concerns for multicollinearity. we combined the data and created interactive terms between gender and the study variables. squared semi-partials) were perfectly in line with other relative importance indices (e.. p \ . mattering* needs satisfaction* capitalization) in the second step of these regressions.01 b . 3150) = 246.g. All of the variables were significant predictors of happiness.001) and explained 27 % of the variance in happiness. respectively.Toward a Better Understanding independent variable (Tabachnick and Fidell 2001).02 SE .64 each and 1. Yet. In doing so. Results for men showed that the regression including the three friendship variables was significant (F(3.. we did not report them. all of the friendship variables were entered in the same step since we did not have any theoretical reasons to control for one variable when investigating the effect(s) of the other(s) on happiness.661. only basic psychological needs emerged as a significant predictor when study variables competed for variance. Menard 1995.001 .60. In the regressions reported below. Myers 1990).41 . 1127) = 141. Also. Two regressions were computed to examine the relative importance of the study variables in happiness among men and women.08* 123 . As seen in Table 2.and three-way interactions (e. The tolerance and variance inflation factor (VIF) values obtained from the regressions revealed that multicollinearity was not an issue (mean tolerance and VIF values across the predictors for men and women were .581.33* . (2004) showed across several studies that traditional ways of assessing the importance of a given variable (e. although it was not a goal of the study and we did not have any theoretical reasons to expect any interactions between the study variables.01 .g. we only reported the latter in our analyses.04 .59 .03 .02 .17 . This robust finding across the sexes necessitated additional analyses. As seen in Table 1. For women.. We used a hierarchical order of entry such that the study variables and sex were entered in the first step and the interactions in the second step.01 b . Table 2 Regression analysis summary for variables predicting happiness Variable Men B Needs satisfaction Perceived mattering Capitalization *p \ . mattering*needs satisfaction. the variables explained 19 % of the variance (F(3. the correlations between the friendship variables were as high as .02 SE . we entered the two.09* . Since none of the interaction terms were significant.05 Women B .05 . Next we wanted to examine whether the variables had differential predictive ability for men and women. Moreover. Specifically. satisfaction of basic psychological needs emerged as the most important variable. The R-square increment was not significant and we did not report it.04 .001). This suggests that gender does not moderate the relationships of the friendship variables with happiness.625. as explained earlier.563 and 1. For this purpose. yet the beta values suggest that needs satisfaction was the most important predictor. Baltes et al. we stated that the role of individual psychological needs in predicting happiness would be examined only if the satisfaction of overall basic psychological needs emerged as the strongest predictor of happiness. For both men and women. since the findings obtained from squared semi-partials were perfectly in line with the beta weights. Accordingly.g. dominance analysis). p \ .

53 . the majority of the participants with a same-sex best friend in our sample were European American (EA.27 6.001) and accounted for 29 % of the variance in happiness. and correlations for the needs satisfaction variables Variables 1 2 3 4 M Men Autonomy Competence Relatedness Happiness – .41. Fisher’s z tests of the correlations revealed that the relationships of autonomy and competence needs satisfaction with happiness were significantly higher among men when compared to women (z = 6.95 1.73. our dataset also contained a considerable number of minority participants (24 % Latino Americans (225 men. 802 women). respectively).01 1.771 women). standard deviations. However.87 . Davidson Table 3 Means. we wanted to capitalize on this unique aspect of the dataset by investigating the predictive ability of the friendship variables in happiness in different ethnic groups. A 2 9 2 MANOVA was conducted to examine gender (men or women) and ethnic group differences (EA or LA) on the study variables. 117). 1.05 1.05 Women .396. 161 women). The initial analyses did not include Asian Americans because our sample did not have enough men (n = 53) to accurately estimate the predictive value of the variables (Tabachnick and Fidell 2001. I.56 .55 each and 1.01.35 – 5.71. Although all of the individual needs were significant predictors of happiness for both sexes (Table 4).45 . beta values revealed that satisfaction of the competence need was the most important need in predicting happiness. and 5 % Asian Americans (53 men.911 and 1. the regression was significant (F(3. we investigated the correlations between the three needs and happiness. The findings revealed that that multicollinearity was not an issue in the sample (mean tolerance and VIF values for the three needs for men and women was . Second. Although it was not a goal of our study.74 1.70 SD Men .001 level supplementary analyses were conducted to investigate the relative importance of the satisfaction of individual needs in happiness. p.01 and z = 8.71 – .154) below the diagonal. p \ . respectively).95 5. Demir. Since the correlations between the individual needs were as high as .M.46 .11 5. The regression among women was also significant (F(3. p \ .13 1. we again relied on the tolerance and VIF values to examine whether the associations between the variables raised any concerns for the analyses. p \ . Findings revealed a significant main 123 . All of the correlations are significant at the . women (n = 3. we conducted two regressions in which all of the needs were entered in the same step when predicting happiness for men and women.52 – . 755 men.84 5.73 Women 8. since a main goal of the present investigation concerned gender differences these initial exploratory analyses included EA and Latino American (LA) participants to obtain accurate estimations of the study variables across the sexes (Tabachnick and Fidell 2001). Yet.001) and explained 19 % of the variance in happiness.57 .10 1. p \ .760. 1127) = 156.800.131) are reported above the diagonal. Among men. 4. 3150) = 241. First.93 1.04 Correlations for men (n = 1.2 Additional Analyses As described above.35 .41 .32 . all of the individual needs were positively associated with happiness among men and women. As seen in Table 3.64 .

and revealed that LAs had higher needs satisfaction scores in their friendships when compared to EAs (M = 6.001 .178. 2571) = 5.11** .73). 2571) = 11. a gender effect was observed among EAs (F(1. SD = . p \ . Next. .001.64) reporting more PA than LA men (M = 3. SD = . p \ .26. 32. Perceived Mattering: (F(1.11) and ethnic group (Wilks’ Lambda = . p \ . Investigation of the magnitude of these associations 123 . capitalization. SD = .02 b .857.04 .13** . M = 5.01) in both sexes in both groups (EA men and women: .05). 3545) = 9.61. the gender effect among LAs (F(1.39** . respectively. .05) were significant. Follow-up univariate analyses for the main effect of gender revealed that this effect was significant only for the friendship variables (Needs Satisfaction: (F(1.152. SD = .68). F(5.59. A gender effect among EAs (F(1.56 vs.33 .85 vs. with women scoring higher than men. .542.29. respectively).03 .001). SD = .05). M = 5.589. 3552) = 22. The follow-up investigation of the interaction between gender and ethnic group revealed that only the interactions for needs satisfaction (F(1.91). This effect was also significant among women (F(1. SD = . p \ . additional analyses revealed that the two groups only differed from each other on NA (F(1.98.36. p \ .98.08 SE .29. 3552) = 154.67). SD = .74) than EAs (M = 1.001.61. 2524) = 112. p \ . LA men and women: . SD = . Simple effects tests demonstrated an ethnicity effect among men (F(1. p \ . 3545) = 3. 1025) = 4. .001).68.05) and LAs (F(1.80. p \ .32 .01) found higher levels among women than men (M = 6.64) and LA Women (M = 3.09 SE . 978) = 4.85).382.14 .987.36.36. 3552) = 238.03 b . SD = . eta squared = .28** .73).05).40.567.85.01).01) showed that EA women had higher needs satisfaction scores than men (M = 5.68.226. 3545) = 84.57 vs. p \ .14 .644.09* Women B . 3552) = 11.893. As for the main effect of ethnic group.642. The interaction between gender and ethnic group was also significant (Wilks’ Lambda = .59. All of the study variables were positively associated with happiness (p \ . p \ .91).001) and positive affect (F(1.80. SD = . eta squared = .001). p \ . with EAs reporting higher levels of needs satisfaction in their friendships than LAs (M = 5. Finally. SD = .69. F(5. Results showed that EA men (M = 3. analyses revealed an ethnicity effect among women (F(1.68.Toward a Better Understanding Table 4 Regression analysis summary for needs satisfaction variables Variable Men B Autonomy Competence Relatedness * p \ . . eta squared = . SD = .692.85). LA women (M = 3. p \ . . Similarly. M = 5. SD = . with LAs reporting higher levels of NA (M = 2. .04 . 1025) = 140.723. SD = .01.001) and Capitalization: (F(1.121.01). SD = .95.06.28. **p \ .68) and LA men (M = 3.01.31 . . with EA men (M = 3. As for positive affect.03 . M = 5. This effect among was significant among men as well (F(1. 3552) = 8. p \ . 2524) = 4. p \ . SD = .47. the associations of perceived mattering.876.05. 978) = 12.58. p \ . F(5.240.10. p \ .58.876.10. and needs satisfaction with happiness across gender among the two ethnic groups were examined.42. SD = .430.995.67) reported more PA than EA women (M = 3.67) had higher levels of PA when compared to EA women (M = 3.01). respectively. 3552) = 296. SD = . p \ .10** effect for gender (Wilks’ Lambda = .

Among men in both ethnic groups.25.027.27. p \ .05.567. Davidson across the groups revealed that the association of needs satisfaction with happiness was significantly higher among men when compared to women only among the EAs (z = 4. p \ .01.746. LA men: (F(3.39. we next examined the relative importance of the satisfaction of individual needs in happiness. .55.01). Yet. and among LA men when compared to EA women (z = 2.38.01). 32.57. Among EA women. R2 = .01). All of the friendship variables were 123 .01). Capitalization: b = . R2 = . LA men: (F(3. .980. p \ . Among men in both ethnic groups. LA: z = 2. p \ . 221) = 36. p \ . p \ .45.81. LA women: (F(3.05. the relationships of the autonomy and competence needs satisfaction with happiness were significantly higher among men when compared to women (EA: z = 4. Demir.01. Thus. Since needs satisfaction emerged as the most important friendship variable in predicting happiness among men and women in both ethnic groups. and Needs satisfaction: b = . p \ . Competence: b = . needs satisfaction was the only significant predictor of happiness (EAs: b = . LA Men: b = .44.01.93. R2 = .01. p \ . LA women: (F(3.653. and EA: z = 4.01). p \ .70. p \ . p \ . p \ . 1767) = 139. and among LA women.06.01.40.01.51. LAs: b = . the autonomy-happiness and competence-happiness associations among men in EAs were significantly different from the associations observed among women in LAs (z = 2. LA: z = 2.000.31.31. 751) = 134.25. 221) = 39. .01.36 vs.05.490.01).51. 1767) = 136. .07.01).01. p \ .49.01. p \ .14. and Relatedness: b = .001. The results of the regression analyses investigating the roles of the three individual needs in happiness revealed significant findings across the groups.33. Among women.81.01). LA: Autonomy: b = . competence and relatedness needs satisfaction were all significantly and positively related to happiness (p \ . In both ethnic groups. the beta values suggest that needs satisfaction was the most important predictor of happiness among EA women.23). R2 = . EA women: (F(3. the correlational and regression analyses were conducted in the entire sample (n = 214). Also.01.19.33. and the respective correlations among LA men were significantly higher when compared to the correlations among EA women (z = 3.22).01. R2 = . our sample not having enough Asian American men prevented us from making meaningful comparison with the other two groups and reliably estimating the predictive ability of the variables. . p \ .68. . and z = 2. p \ . 798) = 75.763.01). competence need satisfaction was the only significant predictor of happiness (EAs: b = . 751) = 113. R2 = . R2 = . p \ .10.18. .01. p \ . .01. respectively). p \ .01.36 vs.19. p \ .001.01.32. p \ . in this ethnic group.01) across the sexes in the ethnic groups (EA men and women: . p \ . respectively. However.01. p \ . and Relatedness: b = . p \ .01. Overall.10. As explained above. LA women: b = .74.33. 2001). which is sufficient for reliable analyses (Tabachnick and Fidell. respectively). all of the individual variables were significant in both groups (EAs: Autonomy: b = .58.38. I. these results suggest that the findings obtained in the entire sample are generalizable to both sexes among EAs and LAs. p \ .35. with the amount of variance explained in happiness ranging from 19 to 35 % (EA men: (F(3. p \ . R2 = . The autonomy. EA women: (F(3. 798) = 77. among EA men in comparison to LA women (z = 2.08. .42. and z = 3.35.01. investigation of the beta values suggests that competence need was the most important predictor of happiness among women in both ethnic groups. all of the study variables were significant predictors of happiness (Mattering: b = . p \ . LA men and women: . p \ . p \ .42. p \ . p \ . p \ . The regression analyses investigating the predictive ability of the friendship variables in happiness among men and women across the two ethnic groups revealed that the model accounted for as high as 33 % of the variance in happiness across the groups (EA men: (F(3. p \ .M.01). Competence: b = .

for both men and women. perceived mattering.01) in happiness and revealed that competence need satisfaction was the only significant predictor (Autonomy: b = . and Relatedness: b = . we believe that this finding should be interpreted with caution since this is the first empirical study comparing these different relationship experiences. these results suggest that the patterns obtained in the total sample and among EAs and LAs are generalizable to Asian Americans as well. Consistent with the findings obtained in the total sample for men and women. Third.Toward a Better Understanding positively associated with happiness (p \ . and satisfaction of basic psychological needs in the friendship were related to happiness to varying degrees. Capitalization: r = . p = 2. these findings suggest that in addition to number of friends and friendship quality. for both men and women.01) among Asian Americans (Mattering: r = . explained 19 % of the variance in happiness (F(4.387.11.05.. This does not mean that capitalization or feelings of mattering are not important for happiness. feeling that one matters to the friend.01). As reviewed earlier.21.27. p = . This line of research produced a wellaccepted finding that friendship quality is more important than quantity in predicting 123 . The present study addressed this issue and investigated three relationship specific experiences. 2011). and Needs satisfaction: b = . explained 14 % of the variance (F(4. As a result.186). 5 Discussion The present investigation examined the roles of three friendship experiences and feelings in individual happiness in a large sample of college students.32. the findings should be interpreted as suggesting that the fulfillment of basic needs is the most influential variable in predicting one’s happiness. 209) = 12. First. Decades of empirical research have consistently shown positive associations between friendship and happiness. needs satisfaction was the most important predictor (Mattering: b = .01. Second.17. past research frequently compared the roles friendship quantity and quality in happiness. The regression investigating the relative importance of individual needs. p \ .32. controlling for gender. p \ . Capitalization: b = . the available studies overwhelmingly focused on friendship quantity and friendship quality (e. All in all.35). capitalization and needs satisfaction are significantly related to happiness and needs satisfaction is the most important relationship experience when the friendship variables compete for variance.g. of the three basic psychological needs. Competence: b = . Rather. Dixon Rayle and Chung 2007. satisfaction of basic psychological needs was as the strongest predictor of happiness when all three variables competed for variance. However. receiving positive responses from a same-sex best friend upon sharing positive events. Demir et al. The findings showed that.507.09.01). Overall. 209) = 8. as explained earlier. p \ . 2006.243. satisfaction of the competence need is the strongest predictor of happiness. less is known about the associations of friendship specific feelings and experiences with happiness. intimacy). Findings showed that. p \ . p \ . There are three major conclusions that can be drawn from the findings. These findings are consistent with the few studies that examined these constructs individually (Deci et al. The friendship variables. Also. there are other aspects to friendship that has the potential to influence one’s happiness. These three conclusions and their implications for research on friendship and happiness are discussed in detail. the relationships of the friendship variables with happiness are generally invariant across the two sexes.22.10. Investigation of the three friendship variables simultaneously provided an opportunity to examine their relative contributions to happiness. p = . when controlling for gender. Needs Satisfaction: r = .

relationship satisfaction). Demir et al. satisfaction of which in life in general or in close relationships (e. Deci et al. attachment security. Sheldon et al. In explaining why competence needs satisfaction was the most important need in predicting happiness. it is still critical to understand why the satisfaction of basic needs emerged as the strongest predictor of happiness in this study. Davidson happiness (Demir et al.. however. 2000. Hays 1985). Goodwin 1999) and develop a sense of mattering in their friendships as a function of their interactions (e. relationship quality. it could be argued that just because the analyses (e. Empirical research has supported the theory even when needs were assessed in different contexts and relationships with various methods (correlational.g. it is essential to highlight that the moderate to high correlations of the three needs did not raise any concerns for multicollinearity (please see above)... in press). relatedness emerges as the most important predictor (Demir et al... Accordingly. 2000. Perhaps this is not surprising considering conceptual overlap between relatedness and relationship experiences. basic psychological needs (e. Theoretical arguments. La Guardia et al. Second. 2007). I. Before providing an explanation to account for this finding.g. it is difficult and redundant to search for the most important need predicting happiness. Deci and Ryan 2000). two issues should be addressed. Although individuals in all cultures share positive things with each other (e. 2011. To start with.. Cohen 1961.g.g.M. Nevertheless. we first review the findings of past research and then provide our arguments in light of theory. 2012. Friendship is a universal relationship which promotes and creates a context for a variety of different feelings (mattering) and experiences (capitalization). it should not be surprising that the satisfaction of innate and basic needs in same-sex best friendships were the strongest predictor of happiness when compared to other universal but not innate or fundamental friendship experiences.g. when researchers assess needs satisfaction in close relationships and predict relationship outcomes (e. when researchers only focus on autonomy and competence needs. Although this argument has merit. On the other hand. Yet.g. promoting closeness) and have the potential to contribute to one’s psychological well-being (Marshall 2001. 2006). The finding that basic psychological needs are the strongest predictor of happiness inevitably raises one additional theoretical question: which of the three needs (autonomy. Reis et al.. and then examine the most important individual need predicting that outcome. suggest that these two friendships variables (capitalization and mattering) play critical roles in the maintenance of relationships (e. Accordingly. experimental. competence) are proposed to be fundamental and innate human needs.g.g. Demir. and relatedness) is the strongest predictor of happiness? Findings revealed that satisfaction of competence needs was the most important one predicting happiness for both men and women. we believe that it is also essential to examine and understand whether the fulfillment of these three needs appear to be ‘differentially critical’ in predicting different outcomes.. the 123 . theory does not consider these two friendship experiences to be fundamental in the lives of individuals.. friendships) has been posited to promote psychological well-being (e. First. more research is needed to establish confidence in the present findings. Gable and Reis 2010). Even though this is a fair point. it is important to consider the fact that several studies investigating psychological needs in general or in different relationships first show the importance of overall needs satisfaction with regards to the outcome investigated in that study. Thus. competence. beta values) suggest one need is more important than the other. it does not necessarily mean that its role in happiness is significantly larger than the others. Deci and Ryan (2000) posit that all of these needs must be satisfied to experience optimal wellbeing. Patrick et al. it might be argued that since the three needs tend to be highly correlated with each other. 1996. and longitudinal) (e.g..

SDT might explain this pattern (relatedness [ autonomy [ competence) obtained when investigating relationship outcomes by suggesting that competence needs are likely to be fulfilled in different contexts. Walen and Lachman 2000) and recent theoretical arguments (Saphire- 123 . For instance. Sheldon and Tan 2007. (2002) argued that overall psychological maturation and past experiences shape the level of the need for competence. 2000. Accordingly. Sheldon et al. 2012. 2002. Deci and Ryan 2000.g.. Friedlander et al.. 1996). (2000) and Sheldon and Tan (2007) showed that of the three needs competence satisfaction was the strongest predictor of happiness. At this point it is critical to highlight Erikson’s theory (1982) suggesting that individuals have a specific developmental task to resolve in different stages of life. 2001. or both. 1965). either competence or autonomy. Sheldon and Niemiec 2006.Toward a Better Understanding former appears to be the next most important need (Demir et al. the unique and new environment might make competence need salient in their friendships and collegiate pursuits.. when researchers measure needs satisfaction in everyday life or with regards to the most satisfying event and predict psychological wellbeing outcomes. Elliot et al. 2007. it is plausible to argue that different needs (e. emerge as the most important one(s) (Reis et al. Even though they might have proven themselves and experienced high levels of competence in their friendships in high school. 2000). Accordingly. In this particular situation. Future research has the potential to shed light on this issue. Young college students might feel intimidated and stressed out by the demands and challenges of their new environment.g. Sheldon and Filak 2008. Devlin 1996. The available literature suggests that the type of outcome investigated (happiness vs. It is essential at this point to highlight that the majority of the participants in this study were 18-years old who were fresh out of high school and trying to adjust to college. Satisfying this need in friendships might be especially critical in a new and challenging environment. On the other hand. Sheldon et al. In this unique situation. La Guardia and Patrick 2008). daily life) influences which individual need emerges as the strongest predictor.g. La Guardia et al. Why did competence but not the other two needs emerge as the strongest predictor of happiness among men and women? Feeling competent in one’s actions and abilities in life in general and in close relationships has been proposed to be a fundamental need which has important implications for psychosocial well-being (Bandura 1977. attachment security) and the context of the assessment of needs (close relationship vs. autonomy) in the friendship might be salient for individual happiness across the life-span (e. transition to parenthood). such as work or school (Deci and Ryan 2000. they might want to show their newly learned skills and abilities to their friends and might need their friends to validate that they are good at what they do. Reis et al. Empirical research suggests that the transition from high school to university is a stressful experience (Buote et al. competence needs satisfaction is the strongest predictor of the three needs. Relevant to the findings of the present study. the findings of the present study adds to this line of empirical research by showing that when needs are assessed in same-sex friendships with regard to happiness. The present investigation also contributed to the literature by showing that friendship experiences are similarly related to the happiness of men and women. it raises an essential theoretical question. perhaps relatedness need in friendships might become the strongest predictor of happiness since competence and autonomy needs are likely to be salient in other relationships. Although this argument is reasonable. Past empirical research (e. Would competence be still the most important need had we sampled juniors or seniors or adults in different age groups? Elliot et al. Pittman and Richmond 2008). 2007. White 1963. during middle adulthood individuals are concerned with making a significant contribution to their world and family members and colleagues at work become the focal relationships.

additional analyses showed that gender did not moderate the friendship-happiness link. in press) suggest that since women experience better friendships (e... Proulx the focus is on dating and marital relationships (e.. 6 Limitations It is essential to acknowledge the limitations of the study. To start with. others found that friendships were similarly experienced in different ethnic groups (Azmitia et al.. However. when the focus is on friendship. these findings are consistent with past research.g. depressed mood). Although the friendship experiences of women were significantly higher when compared to men (with moderate effect sizes).g. 2001).g. Pinquart and So predict that similar patterns of associations between the study variables and happiness be observed. Pagano and Hirsch 2007).and Latino-American men and women and among Asian American participants replicated the results obtained in the general sample. Deci and Ryan 2000). I.g. Way and Chen 2000. Kao and Joyner 2004. However. 2006. Native Americans). the relationships of friendship experiences with happiness were generally similar in both sexes. This suggests that the findings discussed above are generalizable to these ethnic groups. it is essential to consider the possibility that being happy promotes positive friendships. It remains to be seen whether these findings can be generalized to the friendship experiences of other ethnic groups (e. Although some studies have documented ethnic differences in friendship experiences (DuBois and Hirsch 1990. Additional analyses conducted among European. Demir and Orthel 2011)..g. both men and women benefit equally from their friendships experiences. This argument should be interpreted with caution considering the possibility that the results could have been different had we examined other well-being indices (e. Another limitation of the current investigation pertains to the fact that the findings are limited to the same-sex best friendships of college students and cannot be generalized to opposite-sex friendships and to same-sex best friendships in different age groups. the present investigation was cross-sectional in nature which makes causal inferences a concern. Consistent with theoretical arguments (e. Yet. it is important to highlight that our additional analyses included only three ethnic groups. 2007). The only exception to this pattern was the significantly higher correlation between overall need satisfaction and happiness among men when compared to women. Our findings were consistent with this recent research such that the two ethnic groups did not differ from each other on the friendship variables. we treated the friendship variables as predictor of happiness. Demir. The results of this study suggest that experiencing friendships rather strongly does not necessarily equate more happiness for women. suggesting that the variables did not have differential predictive ability for men and women.M. more intimacy) they benefit more from their relationship experiences. Overall. The results were also in line with past empirical studies showing that friendship is similarly associated with psychological well-being in different ethnic groups (Franco and Levitt 1998. Also.g. 1993. these differences were not reflected in the associations of friendship variables with happiness. It could be that gender differences in the relationship quality and well-being link is observed when ¨ rensen 2000. Davidson Bernstein and Taylor. Way et al. Instead. it remains to be seen whether overall needs satisfaction (and competence) 123 . Considering the empirical evidence showing that both types of friendships are positively associated with happiness in different age groups (Chan ¨ rensen 2000). Pinquart and So et al. a finding consistent with past empirical research (e. we would and Lee 2006. Levitt et al. Collins and van Dulmen 2006. Yet. Way and Robinson 2003)..

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