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Gender differences in best friendships

Abstract

Prior investigations of friendship patterns have reported gender differences, with women's same-gender friendships tending to be richer and having a possible therapeutic value, as compared to those of men. Compared to same-gender best friendships, opposite-gender best friendships have been described as less fulfilling for women and more fulfilling for men. The present study explored such differences more fully in a sample of 65 female and 58 male predominantly white college students. Subjects completed four modified versions of P. H. Wright's [(1985) “The Acquaintance Description Form,” In S. F. Duck and D. Pearlman (Eds.), Understanding Personal Relationships: An Interdisciplinarian Approach, London: Sage] Acquaintance Description Form, describing their actual and ideal same-gender best friendships and their actual and ideal opposite-gender best friendships. They also responded to several measures of dysphoria. In the present study, the lowest scores for the friendship scales were reported by male subjects describing same-gender friendships, both ideal and actual. For both male and female subjects, dysphoria was positively correlated with a discrepancy between ideal and actual friendships with same-gender or opposite-gender individuals.

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Correspondence to Christopher Peterson.

Additional information

This paper is based on an honor's thesis in psychology submitted to the University of Michigan by the first author under the supervision of the second author.

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Elkins, L.E., Peterson, C. Gender differences in best friendships. Sex Roles 29, 497–508 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00289323

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Keywords

  • Gender Difference
  • College Student
  • Social Psychology
  • Lower Score
  • Male Subject