At least for young girls, being open and honest is the key to better relationships and a happier life, a new study suggests.
The findings are the result of work with 108 young girls, aged 14 years, who were asked how they felt about expressing their true opinions and feelings to their parents, teachers and friends.
"Authenticity in relationships can be defined as the extent to which one feels comfortable being open and authentic in meaningful relationships, and is able to represent one's own inner experiences in the relationships," Sally Theran, assistant professor of psychology at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass., explained in a school news release.
"The more that one is authentic in meaningful relationships, the more intimate and close their friendships will be," Theran suggested. The findings are published in the June issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
Conflict sometimes healthy
Although past work has indicated that social connections may be undermined by too much honesty, the author found evidence to the contrary. In fact, she noted that seeking to avoid conflict by sacrificing honesty did not appear to be an effective way to handle disagreements.
The results suggest that "some conflict is inherent - and probably healthy - in close relationships," Theran said.
Girls who strove for authenticity with their parents, teachers and peers developed stronger bonds and were less troubled by depression or self-esteem issues, the study revealed.
Those girls who nonetheless chose to hide their true feelings from their parents and teachers -- or were too shy or worried to share them -- risked being depressed by their lack of openness, Theran found. But extra attention and emotional support from family members seemed to help diminish some of the feelings of depression. - (HealthDay News, June 2010)