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

Abstract

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.

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This study was supported by a grant to the first author from the School of Sciences and Health Professions, Old Dominion University. The authors wish to thank Vicky Evans for her help in collecting data for the first experiment. Comments made by Barbara Z. Derlega, Janusz Grzelak, and an anonymous reviewer on an earlier draft of this manuscript are gratefully appreciated. Nancy Jo Dunn patiently assisted us on the data analyses. All correspondence should be sent to Valerian J. Derlega, Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23508.

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Derlega, V.J., Durham, B., Gockel, B. et al. Sex differences in self-disclosure: Effects of topic content, friendship, and partner's sex. Sex Roles 7, 433–447 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00288071

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Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Topic Content
  • Theoretical Mechanism
  • Personal Concern