Gender & Friendship
Two "levels of analysis" of friendship
Toddlers & Preschoolers (2-5)
Establish gender identity.
Learn the rules of "doing gender." Called gender conformity.
Sex-typed toys/games & same-sex playmates.
School-aged children (5-11)
Networks vs. dyads
Distinctions among friends.
Social rules of play groups.
At age 10, intimacy increases for girls.
Intimacy, same-sex & cross-sex friendships
Satisfaction with friendship
Concerns with gender conformity
Sometimes: friends become romantic partners
Young adults (18-35)
Lots of information, especially on college students.
Best friends =same sex friends.
Romantic relationships deepen, achieve permanence.
Gender conformity – declines
Intimacy, satisfaction, & women’s vs. men’s friendships.
Day-to-day life between friends: the Rochester Interaction Record
Gender & meaningfulness – women are still more satisfied.
1. Agentic vs. communal personality traits
2. Values/definitions of intimacy
Elkins & Peterson (1993) – gender and expectations of friends
3. Biases in research & in men’s reports?
1. Standards of masculinity
2. Norms for self disclosure & norms for masculinity
Norm #1: Personal disclosures should be confined to intimate relationship partners.
Norm #2: Moderate levels of disclosure are best for new acquaintances.
Norm #3: The discloser's sex affects perceptions of appropriateness.
3. Norms for affectionate touch
5. Competition: a barrier?
Nature of Male & Female Friendships
Different friendship norms affect friendship
1. "Just talking" vs. "sharing activities"
2. Basic values vs. interests
3. What does it take to be called a "friend?"
4. Reciprocity – give & take.
1. Ideal friend
2. Intimacy & support predict satisfaction.
3. Equal status preferred
Self-Disclosure: Pathway to intimacy for women and men.
Definition: verbal sharing of private, personal information about the self.
Gender-related patterns in self-disclosure:
Women disclose more frequently & more intimately.
A. Friend vs. acquaintance vs. new romantic partner
B. Situation: agentic vs. communal
C. Personality: Agentic vs. communal
D. Sex of disclosure recipient
Gender-related patterns in listening and attending:
**Moderators: Same-sex vs. other-sex interaction & partners' relationship.
Race & ethnicity:
Does it make a difference?
Gender differences in friendship intimacy vary by culture.
Effects of work, marriage, & parenthood
Similarities & differences depending upon gender
Friendships are again cultivated.
Retirement & friendship, women & men
Can men & women be friends?
Comparisons with same-sex friendships
1. Friendship or romantic love?
2. Sexual attraction?
3. Unequal status?
4. Audience challenge
5. Opportunity challenge