Friendship among young people in Wales

19 November 2018

Group of friends

A good sense of humour is the most valued quality in a friend, research of young people in Wales has found.

A team of Cardiff University researchers based at the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) found that honesty and kindness were the next most valued traits.

The research, part of the WISERD Education multi-cohort study, asked young people to choose the most important qualities an ideal friend should possess, out of a potential 11 options (see figure 1).

A good sense of humour was valued by 82% of young people who took part; honesty (67%) and kindness (61%) were the qualities next most commonly chosen.

The quality of ‘seeing things from other people’s perspective’ came in fourth place out of eleven options.

Only 14% of those surveyed said intelligence was important in a friend.

Being good looking (2%), fashionable (3%), rich (3%) and popular (4%) were the traits chosen by the fewest number of young people.

Friendship figure 1
Figure 1

Young people were also asked whether they had friends at school who were of a different gender and race or ethnicity at school.

The results show 84% of young people had friends of a different gender at school and 61% indicated that they had friends of different race or ethnicity than themselves.

Dr Constantino Dumangane Jr, who is based in Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences, said: “All of the findings gathered are useful in understanding young people’s friendships preferences. The qualities that the majority of young people in this survey have chosen indicate that young people are open-minded and engaged in diverse friendships within their learning environments.

“This will hopefully result in them having more inclusive social engagements and citizenship in their community life as they grow up.”

The findings were shared as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Festival of Social Science, at an event which aimed to encourage more young people to consider a future career in the social sciences.

The WISERD Education multi-cohort study has involved an annual survey of over 1,000 young people, aged eight to 18-years-old. Over the past six years, this longitudinal study has made an important contribution to understanding the lives of young people in Wales.

In the most recent sweep in 2018, researchers were particularly interested in exploring young people’s perspectives of their friendship networks; how these associations develop and how these relationships impact and shape young people’s identities, behaviour, relationships and perspectives.

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