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Researchers Edit Book Exploring Friends, Enemies and Frenemies

October 28, 2013 – From “mean girls” in college to Facebook “friends” to enemies in Afghanistan, a new book edited by two Georgetown researchers examines how people make friends and enemies and everything in between.

In the two-volume The Psychology of Friendship and Enmity: Relationships in Love, Work, Politics and War (Praeger, 2013), edited by Georgetown psychology professors Fathali Moghaddam and Rom Harré, researchers examine situations that arise in international diplomacy, in school, at work, in romances and between races and genders, to name a few.

Moghaddam serves as director of the government department’s M.A. in Conflict Resolution program. His co-editor, Harré is also a fellow of Linacre College at Oxford University.

Facebook Friends

“The fascinating feature of friendship and enmity is that it is universal to humans, yet also highly culture- and context-dependent and changing across generations,” says Moghaddam, citing Facebook as an example.

“Friendship on Facebook is normative for teenagers, who are ‘natives’ to the new electronic communications systems, but alien to most adults, who are ‘immigrants’ to the new land of electronic communications,” he says.

Healing Conflicts

Ten Georgetown alumni and two current students contributed to the 28 chapters, whose titles ranges from “‘Mean Girls’ Go to College: Conflicting Storylines of Friendship and Enmity Among Young Adults’” to “Friends and Enemies in the Crime of Sex Trafficking.”

Steven Sabat, professor of psychology at Georgetown, penned a chapter on friendships among those living with dementia in long-term care.

One crucial type of friendship, Moghaddam says, is between individuals who belong to groups that are enemies, such as friendships between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East or Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.

“These types of friendships where an individual is reaching out to other individuals across group lines, where there are historical conflicts that need to be healed, are pivotal in ultimately changing the relationships between groups,” he says.

“A theme underlying all of the chapters is the dynamic and fluid nature of friendship and enmity,” Moghaddam says. “Our ultimate concern, however, is to present ways in which individuals, groups and nations can learn to be friends.”

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