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STRUCTURAL MODELING ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POSITIVE PERCEPTION, DELIBERATIVE BELIEF, AND FRIENDSHIP QUALITY: A STUDY WITH UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS.

1. Introduction

Educational researches tend to focus on the impacts of friendship on educational achievement (Ho, 2016), individual development as well as adjustment (Ladd, Kochenderfer & Coleman, 1996). Additionally, psychological research has discovered that people with quality friendships are more competent, have higher self-esteem, positive effect, life satisfaction and happiness (Buhrmester, 1990; Demir, Ozdemir, & Weikekamp, 2007; Keefe, & Bemdt, 1996; Demir, Ozen,& Dogan, 2012). Since the friendship is so important for students' performance at school successfully, it is paramount to examine the factors influencing the friendship quality. Despite calls for research that identifies the formation of friendship in trust, reciprocal and beneficial context, a review of the literature shows that only a few studies have been conducted in deliberation and positive perception context.

Conflict is defined as an interpersonal disagreement (Adams & Laursen, 2007) and interracial or different social economic status are the major causes upon it. The focus here is on the formation of friendship quality in contemporary diversity school environment. It needs positive perception to overcome the frustrations in making friends and also deliberative belief to communicate with students in diverse background. Johari window theory proposed that its technique was utilized to improve people better understand each other by broadening their unknown part by opening hidden part and uncover themselves blind spot. Deliberation between different opinions from diverse background such as race or social economic status might introduce imagination into the discussion of new solutions. Because the discussion once ended in any compromise possible, it must provide an incentive to think of the new ideas between both sides (Elster, 1998).

The study hypothesizes that positive perception promotes friendship quality by positively influencing their deliberative belief (i.e. deliberative belief mediates the positive perception-friendship quality relationship). We had chosen to examine deliberative belief for three reasons. First, deliberative democracy had been found to affect a variety of variables like organizational citizenship behavior, organizational commitment and leadership support. Second, earlier studies have documented a positive relation between deliberation and civic virtue. Third, the deliberative beliefs including normative and personal dimensions are considered to solve the conflict between diversity and make extremely opposite sides to reach consensus by reasoning. Among the variables in the present study, friendship quality is an important variable which effects students' academic achievement and their adaption in future campus life. Therefore it is necessary to identifying the factors affected on it.

Therefore, it is supposed that positive perception has direct impact, and deliberative belief as a mediator has indirect effects on increasing friendship quality. According to the proposed conceptual model in the present study, structure equation modeling is applied to examine the relationship between variables of positive perception, deliberative belief and friendship quality.

2. Literature review and hypotheses development

2.1 Friendship quality

Friendship is characterized in ways based on how the relations among the individuals are defined. Positive effects of friendship such as hopes, enhanced self-worth, protected from victimization are expected in sustaining a friendship. Friendships have an affective foundation as opposed to an economic foundation. Such relationships are governed by mutual, reciprocated affect rather than reciprocated economic exchange (Brass, 2015). However, friendship is not just as holding a mutual relation. Researchers found that children expect their friends fulfill their need in terms of facilitating social emotion goals for each other; and providing companionship, and affection (Hays, 1984; Furman & Buhrmester, 1985). In the office, reciprocal influences occurring between friendship ties and work ties in the workplace (D'Hont,2016), researches revealed friendships among workers improved job quality significantly and workplace friendship quality had been correlated with job performance, organizational identification and unethical behavior (Bullis & Bach, 1991; Brass, Butterfield, & Skaggs, 1998; Methot, 2016). Equally, similar research also made a number of points that friendship quality had a positive effect on labor productivity (Fletcher 2014), educational achievement, and health (Ho 2016).

Children grown up to be social competence need positive child-parent interaction and friendship quality. Research had illuminated that the quality of the child-parent interaction has been associated with social competence and adjustment. Thus, there are theoretically meaningful relations between perceived parental support and friendship quality. Empirical studies revealed that relationship formation could well-explained by similarity attraction theory. Researchers propose that similarities between individuals could decrease uncertainty, whereas dissimilarities increase uncertainty because interacting with similar others is more predictable than interacting with dissimilar others (Thibaut &Kelley, 1959; Berger & Calabrese, 1975).

Friendships are a paramount source of support during adolescence which may model effective coping, demonstrate how to recruit and offer support, and foster well-being, (Finkenauer & Righetti, 2011). These friendship qualities suggest that adolescents' close friendships may be a protective mechanism facilitating resilience. Good-quality friendships have important effects on adjustment and psychological well-being in your life (Helgeson & Lopez, 2010). Anyway, friendship formation with dissimilar person are hard as to individual seeks to reduce and the personal characteristic involved.

Barriers to friendship

As Secord and Backman (1964) have concluded that status and power differences in the social systems tend to have structural barriers that discourage the friendship development. The more powerful people retain the power of control of the relationship. Among variables such as sex, race, academic status, age, culture and nationality, racial similarity was revealed to be a major determinant of friendship affiliation (Bochner & Orr, 1979). Minority students who feel high levels of race-based rejection sensitivity have directly linked to reduce belonging and adjustment (Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pedersen, & Allen, 1998). Nonetheless, Mendoza-Denton & Page-Gould (2008) found that the development of friendship or affiliative ties across group boundaries provides a paramount vehicle for achieving relational diversity.

The research on sociometric choice proposed that people make friends with persons who are most readily available to us (Vander Zanden, 1984). While friends reflect an element of personal choice, they don't reflect a free choice: we are most likely to make friend with those who are shown up frequently in our path (Jackman& Ccrane, 1986). People who intend to make friend not on their ordinary pathway probably need a capacity to climb up the obstacle and across the gap of culture differences and social dispositions. In our study, we proposed the unique capabilities are deliberation and positive perception.

2.2. Development of theoretical model

Allpoll's contact hypothesis proposed that increased the frequency of interracial contact between students seems to result in sounder beliefs about minority groups and in less prejudice. That means racially balanced classroom can promote an appropriate school environment for the promotion of interracial friendship, because students in desegregated classrooms will be more accepting of other race peers than those in segregated classroom. Interracial contacts are better chances and open a door to interracial communication and make the formation and growth of friendship possible. One of the effective ways to making friend is to communicate each other under ideal speech situation as well as fully deliberative environment. For Habermas(1981), ideal speech situation is that every subject with the competence to speak and act is allowed to take part in a discourse, allowed to question any assertion, to introduce any assertion whatever into the discourse, to expressive his attitudes, desires and needs; no speaker may be prevented by external or internal coercion.

Although empirical studies indicated that friendship grow in the increased interracial contact environment (Jackman & Crane, 1986), relative little study has examined the relationship between positive perception personality trait, deliberation and friendship quality. Researchers from the field of sociology and psychology have noticed the difficulty of operationalizing a concept as variable as that of friendship. In this study, we simplify the concept into the quality of friendship.

Research revealed that the formation of friendship varied in life cycle stage with gender differences, explained by structure and dispositional factors. Building network of friendship needs opportunity and constraints, influencing by age, sex, work, social economic status, race, psychological distress, marriage, parenthood, different life stage, and personal traits (Fischer & Oliker, 1983).

Among these influencing factors, personal strait plays an important role. In this study, our assumptions proposed that students with positive perception would easily overcome the barrier of diverse race, sex, economic and academic background during the building of friendship. After building friendship network, the friendship support could provide social, informational, social and even financial resources for coping with psychological, physiological and behavior distress, help them solve problems and bear emotional upsets (Hansell, 1985). Therefore, college student who has a high-level of positive perception are more likely to engage in friendship making in diverse campus. In the present study, we hypothesize that deliberative belief mediates the positive perception-friendship quality relationship. We present the conceptual arguments for the hypothesized relation below.

2.3. Positive perception and friendship quality

Positive perception will increase as a result of recalling a positive personal experience. Most people believe that the present is better than the past, and the future will be even better. In general, people have tendency to believe that human nature is basically good (Jannoff-Bulman, l989;Taylor & Brown, 1988).People who display positive perception can impact their mental health and has positive psychological, social, and cognitive effects, with positive relation to cognitive flexibility, mood repair and clarity of feeling (Akin, et al., 2016). Akin et al.(2016) had proposed the positive relationship between mindfulness and friendship quality. Mindfulness is defined as a deliberative awareness of the present moment and attending non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experiences (Kabat-Zinn, 2005). Like mindfulness, positive perception nay inhibit reactiveness and encourage a more adaptive and deliberative response to experiences, may enhance psychological well-being(Schroevers & Brandsma, 2010). Studies reported the associations between positive perception and wellbeing in the stressful situation, such as serious health problems. The protective role that positive perception plays in coping with daily life is of interest (Hayes & Weathington, 2007).

2.4 Hypotheses

2.4.1. Positive perception and friendship quality

Positive perception means general tendency to evaluate positively one's abilities, one's past, and human nature in 3 dimensions and can satisfy an individual's need for competence in dealing with frustration situations in making friend at school. Individual with positive perception are more likely to handle diversity in positive affect and optimism. The positive perception in one's ability, one's past and human nature can reduce his negative symptomology, then easy to make friend. Based on the above arguments, we hypothesize:

Hypothesis 1: positive perception (a: self in the past; b: self ability; c: human nature) will be positively related to friendship quality (a: safety; b: closeness; c: acceptance)

2.4.2. Positive perception and deliberative belief

Positive perception affects deliberative belief through positive thinking, positive attitude and positive behavior in communication. Content of deliberation had two values that utilitarianism neglects: liberty and opportunity which join reciprocity, publicity and accountability as the constitutional principles of a deliberative democracy. When individual exhibit positive perception about his past and ability and belief upon human nature, the development of deliberative belief may occur and development normative deliberation may lead to the development of personal deliberative belief (Benhabib, 2007, Cohen, 1989; Barber, 1998)

For examples, when developing one's positive perception, one may also increase his tolerance to diversity. Based on the above arguments, we hypothesize:

Hypothesis 2: positive perception (a: self in the past; b: self ability; c: human nature) will be positively related to deliberative belief (normative and personal)

2.4.3. Deliberative belief and friendship quality

As mentioned above, the principles of deliberation specify terms of collaboration that satisfy reciprocity (Gutmann & Thompson, 2004). Friendship is commonly referred as the voluntary and experience of a mutual relationship (Bukowski & Hoza, 1989). A reciprocal perspective is both procedural and substantive in mutual justification. Deliberation treats minority group as a worthy of a justification that could reasonably accept. Although different opinions between new friends do not come to consensus at once discussion or deliberation, the emerging friendship will not be rejected in the first glance. A student with deliberative belief will be continuing to communicate with the persons from different background and eventually become friends. Based upon the above arguments, we hypothesize:

Hypothesis 3: deliberative belief (normative and personal) will be positively related to friendship quality (a: safety; b: closeness; c: acceptance)

3. Method

3.1. Participants and procedure

Data were collected from college students in Taiwan and prior to data collection, approval were collected from students who were contacted via email. The students participated in the survey on a voluntary basis and their anonymity and confidentiality were assured. Prior to the formal survey, all students were given a complete description of the research. A total of 320 questionnaires were distributed to the college students in Taiwan from spring of 2015 to summer of 2015. After omitting 18 invalid responses, the valid samples included 144 female, 151male students and 6 unclear (N=302).

The scales used were translated from the English-language scales. Because the translated questionnaires originally had been conducted in a non-English speaking nation, back translation was done to make sure that the translation still retained the original meaning.

For statistical testing, utilizing un-rotated factor analysis for all the items with Eigen-values greater than 1.0 produced the first factor, accounting for 45.64 % of the variance. Because a single factor did not emerge from the statistic analysis and no single factor accounted for an actual majority of the variance (50%), the common method bias was not a statistically significant determinant on the results (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, Podsakoff).

3.2. Measures

Deliberative Belief was assessed using the Chinese version of Deliberative Belief Scale (Borgida, Worth, Lippmann, Ergun, & Farr ,2008). The original 15-item DBS has 2 dimensions, personal and normative. The internal consistency of personal and normative was 0.75 and 0.74, respectively. Personal deliberative belief survey items were measured on a 10-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 10(strongly agree). Normative deliberative belief survey items were measured on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 10 (strongly agree). For "normative" dimension, after exploratory factor analysis we used a 4-items subscale. A sample item was "Different points of view need to be included and consulted in making decisions". The Cronbach's alpha is 0.87. For "personal" dimension, after exploratory factor analysis, we used a 4-items subscale. A sample item was "When people have different viewpoints from me, I try to look at things from their perspectives". The Cronbach's alpha is 0.92.

Positive perception--positive perception will be defined as a general tendency with self, time (past, present, future) and human nature, positive related with constructs (optimism, self-esteem, self-efficacy). In addition, positive perception will be positively correlated with positive outcomes (health and role performance) and negatively correlated with negative outcomes (depression, anxiety, and burnout) (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Jannoff-Bulman, 1989; Taylor-Brown, 1988).

The positive perception were measured using the Positive Perception Scale, which was developed by Icekson & Pines (2013). The original 8-item PPS has 3 dimensions, self in the past, self ability and human nature. Positive perception survey items were measured on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).

For "self in the past" dimension, we used a 4-items subscale. A sample item was "I'm pleased with what I have accomplished so far in my life". The Cronbach's alpha is .87. For "self ability" dimension, we used a 2-items subscale. A sample item was "1 feel 1 have a lot to offer". The Cronbach's alpha is .73. For "human nature" dimension, we used a 2-items subscale. A sample item was "People are basically kind and helpful."

The Cronbach's alpha is .80. The Cronbach's alpha of total 8-item is .92.

Friendship quality--FQS (Friendship Quality Scale) is conceptualized as the degree to which individual's willingness to interact to others in order to gains benefit either purposely or not from the generated friendship on the basis of four dimensions, namely: closeness, help, acceptance, and safety. The operational definition of "Closeness" is "To what extent is a student attach to his or her friend(s)". The operational definition of "help" is "The extent to which a student will offer his or her mutual help to friend(s) who are having school related problems". The operational definition of "acceptance" is "To what extent is a student accepted by his or her school friend(s) either socially or emotionally". The operational definition of "safety" is "To what extent is a student's confidence and trusts relied on his or her friend(s)." The friendship quality was measured using friendship quality scale, which was developed by Thien, Razak & Jami (2004). The original 21-item FQS has 4 dimensions, safety, closeness, acceptance and help. Friendship quality survey items were measured on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from I (strongly disagree) to 7(strongly agree). In our study, we adopted 3 dimensions FQS. For safety, we used an 8-items safety subscale. A sample item was "I feel safe when accompanied by my friends". The Cronbach's alpha is 0.91. For closeness, we used 6-items closeness subscale. A sample item was "I would not feel shy when performing something humorous in front of my friends." The Cronbach's alpha is 0.92. For acceptance, we used a 4-items acceptance subscale. A sample item was "My friends and I can overcome differences in our opinion immediately". The Cronbach's alpha is 0.90.

3.3. Data analysis

First, descriptive analysis was performed among scales. Second, sex differences were examined using one-way ANOVA. Third, Pearson's correlations were computed to assess the relationship between positive perception, deliberative belief and friendship quality. Fourth, structural equation model (SEM) was computed to performed to explore the mediating effects of deliberative belief on the relationships between positive perception and friendship quality. In the SEM, positive perception was an independent variable, the deliberative belief--normative and personal--were mediating variables and friendship quality was dependent variable.

Given the known oversensitivity of chi-square difference tests to sample size, additional indexes should be adopted to complement chi-square difference tests. For assessing overall model fit, multiple goodness-of-fit indices were calculated. GF1 and AFGI values greater than .95 and .90, respectively, reflect acceptable fit to the data.

CFI and TL1 values greater than .95 and .90, respectively, reflect acceptable and excellent fit to the data (Hu & Bentler, 1999).

4. Results

4.1. Descriptive results

Means, standard deviations and correlations of the key variables are reported in Table 1. The college students' mean scores for deliberative belief is 3.62 and 6.6, respectively. After correction by different Likert scale, Normative deliberative belief is higher than personal deliberative belief (t=8.68, DF=301, p<0.001) which can be interpreted as be easier to realize the normative knowledge than to do it by self.

4.2. The measurement phase

The finally fitted structure model is shown in Fig. 1. The proposed full mediation fitted well in college students' sample. The internal coefficients of 3 latent constructs were above 0.7. To analyze the measurement model, we use maximum likelihood estimation with no missing data (N=302). We began the structural analysis by testing the full mediation model. The model had a good fit, [X.sup.2]=42, DF=17, CMIN/DF=2.47(p<0.001), RMSEA=0.07(90% Cl [0.043, 0.096]), SRMR=0.03, CFI=0.99, GFI=0.96. Other index are NFI=0.98, RFI=0.96, IFI=0.99, TLI=0.98, AGFI=0.92, PNFI=0.59, PCFI=0.60, Hoelter-240 (p<0.01).

4.3. The structural phase: Mediation analysis

To validate the effects of hypotheses of the SEM, we examined the coefficients of the causal relationships between constructs. Figure 1 illustrates the paths and their significance on the structural model. In the college students, as shown in Figure 1, positive perception explains 44 percent variance of deliberative belief ([R.sup.2]=0.44) and 53 percent variance of friendship quality ([R.sup.2]=0.53). In hypotheses testing, two hypothesis are significant (H2 and H3 are supported). Regarding the complete mediating effects of deliberative belief, the H1 hypothesis is not significant. We can found the complete mediation from Sober test. The values of mediation Sober test are 6.64, std. Error=0.07, p<0.01 (Aroian test=6.62, Goodman test=6.66) (Baron and Kenny ,1986; Sobel, 1982).

Analysis of indirect and direct effects was performed, the direct effect of positive perception on deliberative belief was 0.66 (p<0.001) and the direct effect of deliberative belief on friendship quality was 0.71 (p<0.001).The standardized indirect effect of positive perception on friendship quality was 0.47(/?<0.001). These results begin to illuminate the association between college students' positive perception, deliberative belief and friendship quality.

5. Discussion

This study examined the mediating role of deliberative belief between positive perception and friendship quality among college students. Deliberative belief as measured by deliberative believe scale was the mediator construct in our study. The mean score for personal deliberative belief was 6.60 with a standard deviation of 1.71 .The mean score for normative deliberative belief was 3.62 with a standard deviation of 0.72. In line with finding by Borgida et al.(2008), there are differences between personal and normative deliberative belief, and also related to citizenship and civic virtue. Similarly, other researchers proposed the relations between citizenship and deliberative democracy (Bohman, 1996; Chambers, 2003; Dryzek, 2009).

Personal trait with positive perception might directly augment the formation of friendship, and deliberative ability also has same effects. For example, students with highly positive perception become easily overcome the race discrimination or academic gap as a result. We also notice that students with deliberative capacity could be good at communicating with different opinions from diverse background. Clearly, we still need true longitudinal data to determine the causal relationships between positive perception, deliberative belief, and friendship quality.

Friendship is a complex concept, studies revealed that ideal friend emphasized on reciprocity dimensions including support, understanding, confiding, and trust, otherwise, real friends emphasized on similarity dimensions including interests, experiences, and activities (Weiss & Lowenthal, 1975). That is to say, it is difficult to overcome the interracial gap to make a friend different from you in the diverse background. Also, Tecsch & Martin (1983) study indicated that easy communication is needed for building friendship across age gap. The previous findings were more consistent with the results revealed in our study, the more deliberation make the quality of friendship more strong.

5.1. Limitations and future research

Because of the cross-sectional design for this research, no attempt was made to assign causal relationship to positive perception, deliberative belief, and friendship quality. This study is limited by its design, sample and method. There is a question that the cross-sectional data and similar response format might create common method variance, inflating observed relationships between construct dimensions. Nevertheless, future studies could use questionnaire from different region and people to measure friendship, deliberation and positive perception.

It should be emphasized the sample from same race limits their generalizability. A task for future research is to establish the generalizability of these results to different races. In addition, due to the scope of research, we could not investigate the related variable of support and trust. Further, there may be more moderators and mediators among these mediator which could emerge in the positive perception, deliberative democracy and friendship quality relationships, which future studies may examine. Moreover, follow-up studies should be conducted on specific field , like cyber-communication.

The present research also provides a number of interesting paths for future research. School may be interested in determining the degree to which kind of deliberative pedagogy can be adopted to improve the formation of friendship.

Similarly, given the positive perception training, it would make sense to instigate the degree to which mindful plays a role in fostering the formation of friendship formation in classroom.

6. Conclusions:

"See that man over there?

Yes.

Well, I hate him.

But you don't know him.

That s why 1 hate him. "

--Parable (Allport, 1958)

The more physical separation of blacks from whites in the United State, the more rarity of interracial friendship happened. Previous research emphasized reciprocity in the form of dependability, trust, caring, and commitment as paramount factors in making friendship, or similarity in ideal friendship (Weiss & Lowenthal, 1975). This research indicated that deliberation and positive perception indeed can improve friendship progress. The friendship may formation in spite of dissimilarity, if deliberation and positive perception performed. Under these circumstances, it is of critical importance for teachers to understand the deliberative pedagogy and mindful training in his/her classroom and school.

This study explores the theoretical explanation regarding how college student could form by the deliberative belief and positive perception. In particular, this study uses a SEM approach to friendship quality and examines how deliberative belief might act as potential mediator between positive perception and friendship quality. On the whole, the present results not only support the proposed model of friendship quality formation, but are suggestive of a number of new and interesting avenues for further research and practice,

Chun-wen Lin

National Pingtung University of Science & Technology

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Caption: Fig. 1. Result of structural equation modeling
Table 1. Means, standard deviations (SD), and correlations
of key variables. (N=302)

            1.       2.       3.       4.
l. SI       1
2. SA     .79 **     1
3. HN     .75 **   .70 **     1
4. ND     .40 **   .40 **   .47 **     1
5. PD     .52 **   .53 **   .53 **   .68 **
6. Saf    .42 **   .43 **   .44 **   .45 **
7. Clo    .38 **   .39 **   .46 **   .44 **
8. Acc    .38 **   .37 **   .41 **   .46 **
M          4.38     4.47     4.51     3.62
SD         1.04     1.09     1.16     0.76

            5.       6.       7.       8.
l. SI
2. SA
3. HN
4. ND
5. PD       1
6. Saf    .54 **     1
7. Clo    .60 **   .76 **     1
8. Acc    .57 **   .77 **   .87 **     1
M          6.60     4.51     4.77     4.73
SD         1.71     0.95     1.01     1.05

Note: SI=self in the past; SA=self ability; HN=human nature;
ND=normative deliberative belief; PD=personal deliberative
belief; Saf=safety; Clo=closeness; Acc=Acceptance; M=means;
SD=standard deviations; ** p<.01
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Author:Lin, Chun-wen
Publication:Education
Date:Mar 22, 2018
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