, Volume 19, Issue 1-2, pp 57-66

Gender differences in friendship patterns

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Abstract

The same-sex and opposite-sex friendship patterns of men and women students from two first-year psychology classes at the University of Waikato in New Zealand were examined. A friendship questionnaire previously used in the United States of America was administered to compare results of the two cultures. Findings from this study support American research suggesting that women are more intimate and emotional in their same-sex friendships than men, and tend to place a higher value on these friendships than men do. In accordance with findings of the American sample, New Zealand women emphasized talking, emotional sharing, and discussing personal problems with their same-sex friends, and men showed an emphasis on sharing activities and doing things with their men friends. Differences between the American and New Zealand samples were shown for men in the number of friends and the intimacy levels of these friendships. New Zealand men preferred numerous but less intimate same-sex friends, while women (as in the United States) showed a preference for a few, close, intimate same-sex friends. Men, in contrast to women, derived emotional support and therapeutic value more from their opposite-sex relationships than their same-sex friendships. Finally, more men than women stated they would not cancel an engagement with an opposite-sex friend in order to go out with a same-sex friend. Results are interpreted as suggesting a need for changes in the current socialization process of males who are taught to repress their emotions and form rather less intimate and possibly less beneficial same-sex friendships than women.