Better Relationships Do Not Always Feel Better: Social Relationships Interact in Predicting Negative Emotions in Early Adolescence

Yael Millgram*, Maya Tamir, Sagit Bruck, Asher Ben-Arieh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

How negatively young adolescents feel is central to their well-being. Intuitively, better social relationships should be linked to less negative emotions. This study tested this assumption, using a sample of over 80,000 young adolescents from 32 countries (ages 10–12). Inconsistent with the notion that better social relationships are always related to better emotional experiences, we found that links between negative emotions and adolescents’ relationships with friends or teachers critically depend on their relationships with family. When young adolescents had relatively better relationships with family, better relationships with friends or teachers predicted less negative emotions. However, when adolescents had relatively poorer relationships with family, better relationships with friends or teachers predicted more negative emotions. Results were consistent across adolescents’ gender, age, culture, or socioeconomic status. Findings suggest that the broader social context should be considered for understanding how specific relationships predict negative emotions in early adolescence.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalEmotion
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • early adolescence
  • family
  • friends
  • negative emotion
  • teachers

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