Personality Needs and Patterns of Friendship

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Several approaches to the study of friendship based on Murray’s (1938) need model have been suggested. Winch (1955) proposed that a person who is high on one need would be attracted to another who is high on a complementary need. Izard (1960a) failed to support Winch's hypothesis but found instead that friends tended to have similar needs. Izard suggested that people who were striving for the same goals could engage in mutual need satisfaction and would therefore be attracted.

Since need satisfaction is a theme common to both Winch's and Izard's approaches, the current author suggested an approach which would examine the relationship between the individual's need pattern and his perception of a friend's ability to satisfy those needs. It was felt that a person would be attracted to those whom he perceived as capable of supplying the rewards of friendship which would satisfy the need. Wright (in press) suggested that the rewards of friendship include Utility Value (UV), Ego Support Value (ESV) and Stimulation Value (SV).

This study attempted to examine three aspects of friendship. First, an attempt was made to determine which of the needs, as defined by Murray (1938), were related to Wright's three rewards of friendship. Secondly, the hypothesis was tested which stated that the more similar a friend is to the individual's concept of an Ideal Friend, the more valued will be the relationship. Finally, it was predicted the individual's pattern of needs would influence the degree to which he would choose homogeneous friends.

To test these hypotheses, descriptions of each subject's three best friends and his concept of an Ideal Friend were obtained using a thirty-item, structured Q sort based on statements descriptive of a person who is high in ESV, UV and SV. The strength of friendship was measured by having the subject complete modified Voluntary Interdependence (VID) and Person-qua-Person (PQP) scales from Wright's (1969) Acquaintance Description Form. These scales were summed to yield a Total Friendship (TF) score. Finally, each subject completed the Personality Research Form which yielded scores for fourteen of the needs described by Murray.

Correlational analyses were conducted to test the relationship between needs, preference for the rewards of friendship and friendship patterns. The relationship between the description of an Ideal Friend and interpersonal attraction (friendship) was examined using a Friedman two-way analysis of variance.(Siegel, 1958).

To briefly review the results, it was found that only three of the fourteen needs (play, achievement and social recognition) correlated at a significant level with one or more of the three rewards of friendship. Thus, little relationship was found to exist between Murray's need model and Wright's concept of rewards of friendship. Secondly, the data failed to support the hypothesis that homogeneity of friendship choices is related to need patterns. An alternative interpretation of the data was advanced using Eysenck's (1965) extroversion-introversion as a possible variable influencing friendship patterns. Finally, the data supported the prediction that the more similar a friend is to the subject's concept of an Ideal Friend, the stronger will be the friendship. The clinical implications of this finding were discussed.

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