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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1988 Dec;55(6):991-1008.

Five domains of interpersonal competence in peer relationships.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles 90024.


In three studies we investigated the utility of distinguishing among different domains of interpersonal competence in college students' peer relationships. In Study 1 we developed a questionnaire to assess five dimensions of competence: initiating relationships, self-disclosure, asserting displeasure with others' actions, providing emotional support, and managing interpersonal conflicts. Initial validation evidence was gathered. We found that self-perceptions of competence varied as a function of sex of subject, sex of interaction partner, and competence domain. In Study 2 we found moderate levels of agreement between ratings of competence by subjects and their roommates. Interpersonal competence scores were also related in predictable ways to subject and roommate reports of masculinity and femininity, social self-esteem, loneliness, and social desirability. In Study 3 we obtained ratings of subjects' competence from their close friends and new acquaintances. Relationship satisfaction among new acquaintances was predicted best by initiation competence, whereas satisfaction in friendships was most strongly related to emotional support competence. The findings provide strong evidence of the usefulness of distinguishing among domains of interpersonal competence.

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