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Desire to Change Society Linked to Caring Friends

Update Date: Feb 02, 2013 01:03 PM EST

A new study from the Concordia University shows that friendships formed during early teen years can make a person feel empathy or apathy towards the society.

"Increasing our understanding of adolescents' relationships with friends can help us understand what kind of adults they might become," said Anna-Beth Doyle, from the Concordia University.

The study was based on yearly data obtained from 142 teens from ages 13 to 16. The teens were asked about their ideas of contributing to the society. They were given questionnaires and they had to respond to statements like "I try to help others by sharing what I've learned in my life," and "Others would say that I have done something special for society."

The teens in the study were also asked about how they helped their close friends by responding to statements like "I can tell when my friends need comforting, even when s/he doesn't ask for it," or "When my friend has a problem, I try to help him/her to come up with something to do about it."

Researchers found that teens that helped their close friends were more motivated to be involved activities that aimed for a better society. The study results showed that girls were more caring than boys. However, in general, teens helpful in close relationships were more likely to be concerned with problems of the community.

"This research has an important message for teachers, parents and psychologists involved with adolescents: if we can successfully foster young teens showing care for their friends, we have a good chance of also fostering a desire to leave a positive mark on their community and the world," according to Doyle and Heather Lawford, faculty member at Bishop's University, according to a news release. 

The study is published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.                

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