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Sex differences in same-sex friendship

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Mayta A. Caldwell.

Additional information

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.

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Caldwell, M.A., Peplau, L.A. Sex differences in same-sex friendship. Sex Roles 8, 721–732 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00287568

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Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Direct Information
  • Questionnaire Study
  • Quantitative Aspect
  • Emotional Intimacy