WS and Friendship II

WS and Friendship II (04/2019 - 12/2021)

Loneliness, social vulnerability and their psychological complications under conditions of intellectual disability - Williams-Beuren syndrome (WS) as a key to understanding the development of the concept of "friendship"?

Initial Position

Friendships are a special form of social relationship. In general, the importance of friendships for quality of life, social status and state of health has been extensively confirmed by socio-medical, psychological and sociological research (Hojjat et al. 2017; Schobin et al. 2016). Friendship can be explored by analyzing (a) the quantity and quality of friendship practices and / or (b) the underlying concept of friendship. The few studies on the WS so far indicate a comparatively low quality of life, problems with social cognition, little knowledge of the concept of friendship and difficulties in building and maintaining relationships with peers. (Davies et al. 1997; Elison et al. 2010; Fisher et al. 2017; Sullivan et al. 2003). So far it is unclear why adolescents and adults with WBS seem to “get stuck” in their understanding of friendship at child-like levels and which aspect of social cognition could be the reason for this. If this riddle could be solved, the WS could provide a key to a better understanding of friendship development.

Project Objectives

The research project has the following objectives:

  • Networking with other researchers on the subject of WS and friendship (see WS and Friendship I - establishing an international cooperation)
  • Literature research and evaluation
  • Development of a research methodology and concrete ideas for interventions (e.g. social stories)
  • Development of a research proposal

Participated Conferences

  • Prosetzky, I.: Friendship and Loneliness – For a better understanding of social behavior under conditions of Williams Syndrome. WS-Conference, 11.05.2019, HSZG, Görlitz (Oral presentation).
  • Landtagsmittel-Projektekonferenz, 26.06.2019, HSZG, Zittau (Poster presentation).
  • World Congress of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. 06.- 09. August 2019, SEC Glaskow, UK (Attendance).
  • Williams Syndrome Researchers UK Meeting, Wednesday, 18.-19. September 2019, Durham University, (Attendance).


  • Prosetzky, I. (2019): The “Friendship” category in the cultural historical theory - suggestions for / through the Williams syndrome research. (in German) In: Jahrbuch der Luria-Gesellschaft 2019, 61-91, ISBN: 978-3-96543-081-5
  • Prosetzky, I.  (2019): „ Friendship and Loneliness – WS conference at the University of applied sciences Zittau/Görlitz (in German). In: Wir üBer unS/Umschau. Zeitschrift des Bundesverbandes WBS. Heft 47, 72-76.
  • Siegert, A. (2019): Quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities. Friendship as a "gateway to the world"!? (in German) HSZG. Unpublished Master-Thesis.


  • Davies, M., Howlin, P., & Udwin, O. (1997). Independence and adaptive behavior in adults with Williams syndrome. Am J Med Genet, 70(2), 188-195.
  • Elison, S., Stinton, C., & Howlin, P. (2010). Health and social outcomes in adults with Williams syndrome: findings from cross-sectional and longitudinal cohorts. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2009.12.013
  • Fisher, M. H., & Morin, L. (2017). Addressing social skills deficits in adults with Williams syndrome. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2017.10.008
  • Hojjat, M., & Moyer, A. (Eds.). (2017). The psychology of friendship. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Schobin, J., Leuschner, V., Flick, S., Alleweldt, E., Heuser, E. A., & Brandt, A. (2016). Freundschaft heute. Eine Einführung in die Freundschaftssoziologie Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.
  • Sullivan, K., Winner, E., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2003). Can adolescents with Williams syndrome tell the difference between lies and jokes? doi: 10.1080/87565641.2003.9651888

Project Funding

The project is funded by the SMWK (Saxon State Ministry for Science, Culture and Tourism) and is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget decided by the members of the Saxon State Parliament with € 6,000.


Foto: Prof. Dr. phil. Ingolf Prosetzky
Prof. Dr. phil.
Ingolf Prosetzky
Fakultät Sozialwissenschaften
Campus 02826 Görlitz
Furtstraße 2
Building I, Room 2.07
+49 3581 374-4287