Friendship and character education: A systematic review

Amistad y educación del carácter: una revisión sistemática

Zaida Espinosa Zarate, Josu Ahedo y Miguel Rumayor


This paper presents a systematic review of scientific articles on friendship and character education (CE) published between 2007 and 2021. It seeks to identify the dominant theo- ries from which CE is approached, how friend- ship is understood in the studies, and what specific relationship is built between friend- ship and character; in other words, the extent to which it is posited that friendship can be harnessed to acquire virtues. Results indicate a prevalence of a psychological approach to CE, linked to an instrumentalist perspective on friendship, which associates it with certain benefits. However, this approach is closely followed by a philosophical–moral view that understands friendship as a good in itself and, consequently, highlights its humanizing potential. The Aristotelian framework for un- derstanding friendship and character stands out within this approach. The relationship be- tween friendship and character in the selected articles is explored through 5 categories that emerged in the analysis: 1) friendship for char- acter; 2) character for friendship; 3) friendship and transgressions; 4) teachers’ and students’ perceptions of the influence of friendship; and 5) analysis of programmes that include friendship in the curriculum.

Please, cite this article as follows: Espinosa Zárate, Z., Ahedo Ruiz, J., & Rumayor, M. (2023). Amistad y educación del carácter: una revisión sistemática | Friendship and character education: A systematic review. Revista Española de Pedagogía, 81 (284), 143-169.

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Zaida Espinosa Zarate has a Doctorate in philosophy from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Ox- ford (2022), and is the author of the book Percepción, pensamiento y lenguaje. El rea- lismo radical de Reinhardt Grossman y el realismo moderado de Fernando Inciarte [Perception, thought and language: The radical realism of Reinhardt Grossman and the moderate realism of Fernando In- ciarte]. Her most recent articles include “Problem-Based Service Learning (PB-SL): Constructing a pedagogy of poverty based on Ignacio Ellacuría” (Educational Philosophy and Theory, 2022). Her research is in the fields of ethics and character education.

Josu Ahedo. Licentiate degree in Phi- losophy, Political Science, and Law. Com- munication graduate. Doctor of Philos- ophy. He was a secondary education and baccalaureate Teacher for 16 years. He has been an Associate Professor at the UNIR since 2011. He is Director of the Master’s in Teaching Methods in Personalised Edu- cation and Coordinator of the Master’s in Character Education and Emotional Edu- cation. He is Director of the El quehacer educativo en acción (Educational work in action) research group (EDUCACCION).

Miguel Rumayor is a researcher at the Universidad Panamericana (Guadala- jara, Mexico) and Associate Professor of Theory and History of Education at the Universidad Villanueva (Madrid, Spain). Two six-year research periods recognised by CNEAI (Spain’s national research ac- tivity assessment council). Visiting Schol- ar at Oxford, Notre Dame University, Catholic University, Duquesne University. His most recent work is Vida académica y formación personal: la universidad hoy a la luz del pensamiento de John Henry Newman [Academic life and personal formation: The university today in light of the thought of John Henry Newman] (Eunsa, 2021).

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