Are Peer Status, Friendship Quality, and Friendship Stability Equivalent Markers of Social Competence?


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

The definition of social competence is much debated among researchers. It is common to assess social competence based on relational outcomes, instead of individual traits, as it is believed that social competence underlies an individual’s success in achieving these outcomes. Common indicators of social competence among adolescents include peer group status, friendship quality, and friendship stability. Researchers have recently paid increased attention to the different social skills needed to attain different forms of peer status (i.e., peer acceptance vs. popularity), but a similar level of attention has not been paid to the distinction between social skills needed for peer status compared with friendship success. In the current review, we call for increased attention to this distinction. In addition, we argue that social competence should be viewed in light of adolescents’ personal social goals (e.g., whether they prioritize status over friendships), and their ability to effectively attain those goals. Finally, we argue that whereas friendship quality is a good marker of social competence, friendship stability is a poor marker of social competence because ending a friendship may actually be an indicator of social savvy in some instances.

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