Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Randall M. Jones


Randall M. Jones


Similarities between adolescent friends have been established for many characteristics, including the physical, behavioral, psychological, academic, and social domains of development. Past research and theory also support the notion that psychological and behavioral characteristics are likely related to ego-identity characteristics. This study was primarily a test of the logical extension of the previous statements: Best friends are more similar than nonfriends on identity characteristics. It was also hypothesized that best friends are more similar than nonfriends on behaviors, attitudes, and intentions expected to be related to identity.

A sample of 1,159 grade 10-12 students responded to a survey that included a measure of identity status levels, based on a modified Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status. The self-response survey also contained additional items that assessed behaviors, attitudes, and intentions. When comparing 198 pairs of mutually identified adolescent best friends and like numbers of pairs of non mutual best friends and randomly paired non friends, several tests of similarity indicated that best friends shared distinct similarities in ego identity. Magnitudes of similarity indicators were greater for measures of identity in specific content areas than for the global identity status levels or interpersonal and ideological domains. In addition, best friends were more similar than nonfriends on many behaviors, attitudes, and intentions expected to be related to identity.

However, similarities of best friends were not related to the duration of the friendship. Weak relationships between identity and academics across grade levels suggested a possible reduction of identity similarities in friend pairs over time. No clear relationships were found between friends' similarities and friends' friendship strength. Finally, only inconsistent differences between females and males were found in the relationships of identity status levels, behaviors, attitudes, and intentions with friendship duration, friendship strength, and grade level.