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How Do Ideal Friend Preferences and Interaction Context Affect Friendship Formation? Evidence for a Domain- General Relationship Initiation Process

  • Huang, SA
  • Ledgerwood, A
  • Eastwick, PW
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2020
eScholarship - University of California
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© The Author(s) 2019. This research examined how people’s ideal friend preferences influence the friendship formation process. In an extension of prior research on romantic relationship initiation, we tested whether the match between participants’ ideals and a partner’s traits affected participants’ interest in forming a new friendship in three contexts: evaluating a potential friend’s profile, meeting in-person, and chatting online. Results revealed that participants were more interested in becoming friends with a partner whose traits matched (vs. mismatched) their ideal friend preferences when evaluating his or her profile. After a live interaction, however, the effect of the ideal-perceived trait match manipulation on participants’ friendship interest was substantially reduced in both in-person and online chatting contexts. People’s ideal friend preferences may influence their friendship interest more strongly in descriptive (i.e., indirect) than interactive (i.e., direct) contexts, a finding that mirrors prior results from the romantic domain and documents a role for domain-general relationship initiation processes.

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