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Abstract

Friendships are integral to healthy social functioning and successful navigation in our social world. They provide a plethora of benefits, but alongside these benefits, friendships bring certain obligations. Therefore, identifying good friends – and being a good friend – is extremely important. So, what makes for a good friend? Although it may seem intuitive that people would value those who are helpful, loyal, and honest, my dissertation will suggest that in some circumstances these otherwise noble values can be at odds with being a good friend. In Chapter 1, I investigate cases in which people respond to their friend being helpful and generous. I find that people respond negatively to a friend who is more helpful and generous overall, preferring their friend be less helpful and generous when the recipient of the prosociality is another friend (but not a family member or romantic partner). Chapter 2 explores people’s inferences about their friend based on how the friend takes sides during a conflict in which a clear transgression was committed. I find that although people do expect loyalty from their friends, they are more accepting of disloyalty after having committed a moral transgression. Moreover, people make inferences about their friend’s morality based on the friend’s side-taking decision. Finally, Chapter 3 examines whether honesty is indeed the best policy among friends. I find that while benevolent dishonesty is acceptable from both friends and acquaintances, critical honesty is only acceptable from friends. Taken together, this work suggests that although helpfulness, loyalty, and honesty are highly valued and desired characteristics in friends, people sometimes prefer their friend to be less helpful, less loyal, and less kind.

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