Sex Roles

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 433–447 | Cite as

Sex differences in self-disclosure: Effects of topic content, friendship, and partner's sex

  • Valerian J. Derlega
  • Bonnie Durham
  • Barbara Gockel
  • David Sholis


Male-female differences in self-disclosure were found as a function of sex stereotyping of topic content. Men disclosed less than women on “feminine” topics, which emphasized personal concerns and sensitivities. Men and women did not differ in disclosure on “neutral” topics, considered appropriate for both sexes to discuss. Men and women did not differ in disclosure on “masculine” topics (emphasizing assertiveness) in two of three experiments. Theoretical mechanisms that might mediate sex differences in self-disclosure were considered.


Social Psychology Topic Content Theoretical Mechanism Personal Concern 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Altman, I., & Taylor, D. A. Social penetration: The development of interpersonal relationships. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1973.Google Scholar
  2. Aronson, E., & Carlsmith, J. M. Experimentation in social psychology. In G. Lindzey and E. Aronson (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (Vol. 2). Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1968.Google Scholar
  3. Bem, S. L. The measurement of psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1974, 42, 155–162.Google Scholar
  4. Bem, S. L., & Lenney, E. Sex typing and the avoidance of cross-sex behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1976, 33, 48–54.Google Scholar
  5. Booth, A., & Hess, E. Cross-sex friendship. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1974, 36, 38–47.Google Scholar
  6. Broverman, I. K., Vogel, S. R., Broverman, D. M., Clarkson, F. E., & Rosenkrantz, P. S. Sex-role stereotypes: A current appraisal. Journal of Social Issues, 1972, 28, 59–78.Google Scholar
  7. Chaikin, A. L., Derlega, V. J., Bayma, B., & Shaw, J. Neuroticism and disclosure reciprocity. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1975, 43, 13–19.Google Scholar
  8. Deaux, K. Sex differences. In T. Blass (Ed.), Personality variables in social behavior. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1977.Google Scholar
  9. Derlega, V. J., & Chaikin, A. L. Norms affecting self-disclosure in men and women. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1976, 44, 376–380.Google Scholar
  10. Ellis, L., & Bentler, P. Traditional sex-determined role standards and sex stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1973, 25, 28–34.Google Scholar
  11. Goodstein, L. D., & Russell, S. W. Self-disclosure: A comparative study of reports by self and others. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1977, 24, 365–369.Google Scholar
  12. Hays, W. L. Statistics for psychologists. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963.Google Scholar
  13. Henley, N. M. Power, sex and nonverbal communication. In B. Thorne and N. Henley (Eds.), Language and sex: Difference and dominance. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House, 1975. Originally published in Berkeley Journal of Sociology. 1973, 18, 1–26.Google Scholar
  14. Hoffman, L. W. Changes in family roles, socialization, and sex differences. American Psychologist, 1977, 32, 644–657.Google Scholar
  15. Huessmann, L. R., & Levinger, G. Incremental exchange theory: A formal model for progression in dyadic social interaction. In L. Berkowitz and E. Walster (Eds.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 9). New York: Academic Press, 1976.Google Scholar
  16. Huston, T. L., & Levinger, G. Interpersonal attraction and relationships. In M. R. Rosenzweig and L. W. Porter (Eds.), Annual review of psychology. Palo Alto, Calif.: Annual Review, 1978.Google Scholar
  17. Kelvin, P. Predictability, power and vulnerability in interpersonal attraction. In S. Duck (Ed.), Theory and practice in interpersonal attraction. New York: Academic Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  18. Komarovsky, M. Blue-collar marriage. New York: Random House, Vintage, 1967.Google Scholar
  19. Komarovsky, M. Cultural contradictions and sex roles: The masculine case. American Journal of Sociology, 1973, 78, 873–884.Google Scholar
  20. Komarovsky, M. Dilemmas of masculinity: A study of college youth. New York: Norton, 1976.Google Scholar
  21. Maccoby, E. E., & Jacklin, C. N. The psychology of sex differences. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1974.Google Scholar
  22. Marlatt, G. A. A comparison of vicarious and direct reinforcement control of verbal behavior in an interview situation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1970, 16, 680–694.Google Scholar
  23. Mickelson, D. J., & Stevic, R. R. Differential effects of facilitative and nonfacilitative behavioral consequences. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1971, 18, 314–319.Google Scholar
  24. Morgan, B. S. Intimacy of disclosure topics and sex differences in self-disclosure. Sex Roles, 1976, 2, 161–166.Google Scholar
  25. Morton, T. L. Intimacy and reciprocity of exchange: A comparison of spouses and strangers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1978, 36, 72–81.Google Scholar
  26. O'Neill, S., Fein, D., Velit, K. M., & Frank, C. Sex differences in preadolescent self-disclosure. Sex Roles, 1976, 2, 85–88.Google Scholar
  27. Pleck, J. H. The male sex role: Definitions, problems, and sources of change. Journal of Social Issues, 1976, 32, 155–164.Google Scholar
  28. Pleck, J. H., & Sawyer, J. (Eds.). Men and masculinity. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1974.Google Scholar
  29. Sattel, J. W. The inexpressive male: Tragedy or sexual politics? Social Problems, 1976, 23, 469–477.Google Scholar
  30. Simmel, G. The stranger. In K. H. Wolff (Ed.), The sociology of Georg Simmel. New York: Free Press, 1950.Google Scholar
  31. Thase, M., & Page, R. A. Modeling of self-disclosure in laboratory and nonlaboratory interview settings. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1977, 24, 35–40.Google Scholar
  32. Wheeler, L., & Nezlek, J. Sex differences in social participation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1977, 35, 742–754.Google Scholar
  33. Zanna, M. P., & Pack, S. J. On the self-fulfilling nature of apparent sex differences in behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1975, 11, 583–591.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valerian J. Derlega
    • 1
  • Bonnie Durham
    • 1
  • Barbara Gockel
    • 1
  • David Sholis
    • 1
  1. 1.Old Dominion UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations