Two studies examined sex differences in the same-sex friendships of college men and women. In a questionnaire study, self-reports were obtained of number of friends and frequency of interaction, typical and preferred kinds of interactions with friends, and emotional intimacy. A role-play study provided more direct information about conversations between friends. Men and women did not differ in quantitative aspects of friendship such as number of friends or amount of time spent with friends, nor in the value placed on intimate friendships. However, clear sex differences were found in both studies in the nature of interactions with friends. Women showed emphasis on emotional sharing and talking; men emphasized activities and doing things together. Results are discussed in terms of life-cycle constraints on friendship, and the possibility of sex differences in standards for assessing intimacy in friendship is considered.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Allen, J. G., & Haccoun, D. M. Sex Differences in emotionality: A multidimensional approach. Human Relations, 1976, 29, 711–722.
Altman, I., & Taylor, D. A. Social penetration: The development of interpersonal relationships. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973.
Balswick, J. O., & Peek, C. W. The inexpressive male: A tragedy of American society. Family Coordinator, 1971, 20, 363–368.
Bell, R. R. Marriage and family interaction (5th ed.). Homewood, Ill.: Dorsey Press, 1979.
Booth, A. Sex and social participation. American Sociological Review, 1972, 37, 183–193.
Booth, A., & Hess, E. Cross-sex friendship. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1974, 36, 38–47.
Brain, R. Friends and lovers. New York: Basic Books, 1976.
Brenton, M. Friendship. New York: Stein and Day, 1974.
Cozby, P. C. Self-disclosure: A literature review. Psychological Bulletin, 1973, 79, 73–91.
David, D. S., & Brannon, R. (Eds.). The forty-nine percent majority: The male sex role. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1976.
Derlega, V. J., & Chaikin, A. L. Sharing intimacy. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1975.
Donelson, E., & Gullahorn, J. E. Women: A psychological perspective. New York: Wiley, 1977.
Jourard, S. M., & Richman, P. Disclosure output and input in college students. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 1963, 9, 141–148.
Komarovsky, M. Blue-college marriage. New York: Vintage, 1967.
Komarovsky, M. Dilemmas of masculinity: A study of college youth. New York: Norton, 1976.
Lewis, R. A. Emotional intimacy among men. Journal of Social Issues, 1978, 34, 108–121.
Lowenthal, M. F., & Haven, C. Interaction and adaptation: Intimacy as a critical variable. American Sociological Review, 1968, 33, 20–30.
Morgan, B. S. Intimacy of disclosure topics and sex differences in self-disclosure. Sex Roles, 1976, 2, 161–167.
Pleck, J. H. Man to man: Is brotherhood possible? In N. Glazer-Malbin (Ed.), Old family/new family: Interpersonal relationships. New York: Van Nostrand, 1975.
Pleck, J. H. The male sex role: Definitions, problems and sources of change. Journal of Social Issues, 1976, 32(3), 155–164.
Powers, E. A., & Bultena, G. L. Sex differences in intimate friendships in old age. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1976, 38, 739–747.
Suttles, G. D. Friendship as a social institution. In G. McCall, M. M. McCall, N. K. Denzin, G. D. Suttles, & S. B. Kurth (Eds.), Social relationships. Chicago: Aldine, 1970.
Tiger, L. Men in groups. New York: Vintage, 1969.
Tiger, L. Sex-specific friendship. In E. Leyton (Ed.), The compact: Selected dimensions of friendship. St. Johns: Memorial University of Newfoundland Press, 1974.
Walker, L. S., & Wright, P. H. Self-disclosure in friendship. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1976, 42, 735–742.
Weiss, L., & Lowenthal, M. F. life-course perspectives on friendship. In M. F. Lowenthal, M. Thurnher, & D. Chiriboga (Eds.), Four stages of life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1975.
Wheeler, L., & Nezlek, J. Sex differences in social participation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1977, 35, 742–754.
Williams, R. M. Friendship and social values in a suburban community: An exploratory study. Pacific Sociological Review, 1959, 2, 3–10.
Wright, P. H., & Crawford, A. C. Agreement and friendship: A close look and some second thoughts. Representative Research in Social Psychology, 1971, 2, 52–69.
The authors express their appreciation to Jacqueline Goodchilds and Marianne Senko for assistance in designing and conducting the role-play study, and to Joseph Pleck for his helpful comments on an earlier version of this article.
About this article
Cite this article
Caldwell, M.A., Peplau, L.A. Sex differences in same-sex friendship. Sex Roles 8, 721–732 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00287568
- Social Psychology
- Direct Information
- Questionnaire Study
- Quantitative Aspect
- Emotional Intimacy