Sex Roles

, Volume 9, Issue 12, pp 1183–1196 | Cite as

Close friendship in adulthood: Conversational content between same-sex friends

  • Elizabeth J. Aries
  • Fern L. Johnson


This study was designed to examine ongoing close friendships among same-sex adults. An analysis of frequency and depth of conversational topics was undertaken. The self-reports of female participants showed that they converse more frequently than the male participants about intimate topics and daily and shared activities. Sex differences on depth of topic discussion also emerged, with females reporting greater depth in topics involving personal and family matters. Sports was the only topic for which males, rather than females, reported both more frequent discussion and conversation in greater depth. The topic frequency data were factor analyzed for each sex group. The factor analyses indicated patterns for the males on “personal issues,” “sociocultural issues,” and “activity” and patterns for females on “domestic matters,” “personal issues,” and “worldly issues.” The results of the study generally support sex-stereotypical assumptions about the nature of male-male and female-female conversations.


Great Depth Female Participant Male Participant Close Friendship Frequency Data 
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. Social penetration: The development of interpersonal relationships. New York: Holt, 1973.Google Scholar
  2. Aries, E. Interaction patterns and themes of male, female, and mixed groups. Small Group Behavior 1976, 7 7–18.Google Scholar
  3. Babchuk, N. Primary friends and kin: A study of the associations of middle class couples. Social Forces 1965, 43 483–493.Google Scholar
  4. Beier, E. G., Rossi, A. M., & Garfield, R. L. Similarity plus dissimilarity of personality: Basis for friendship. Psychological Reports 1961, 8 3–8.Google Scholar
  5. Black, H. K. Physical attractiveness and similarity of attitude in interpersonal attraction. Psychological Reports 1974, 35 403–406.Google Scholar
  6. Bott, E. Family and social network: Roles, norms and external relationships in ordinary urban families (2nd ed.). London: Tavistock, 1971.Google Scholar
  7. Cozby, P. C. Self-disclosure: A literature review. Psychological Bulletin 1973, 79 73–91.Google Scholar
  8. Daly, M. Gny/Ecology. Boston: Beacon, 1978.Google Scholar
  9. Douvan, E., & Adelson, J. The adolescent experience. New York: Wiley, 1966.Google Scholar
  10. Duck, S. Personality similarity and friendship choice: Similarity of what, when. Journal of Personality 1973, 41 543–558. (a).Google Scholar
  11. Duck, S. Similarity and perceived similarity of personal constructs as influences of friendship choice. British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 1973, 12 1–6. (b)Google Scholar
  12. Duck, S., & Spencer, C. Personal constructs and friendship formation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1972, 23 40–45.Google Scholar
  13. Izard, C. Personality similarity and friendship. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 1960, 61 47–51.Google Scholar
  14. Johnson, F. L., Davis, L. K., & McNamee, S. Familial relationships, topics, and conversation styles in family interaction on television in the U.S.A. Paper presented in Sociolinguistics Division, Ninth World Congress of Sociology, Uppsala, Sweden, August 1978.Google Scholar
  15. Jourard, S. Disclosure: An experimental analysis of the transparent self. New York: Wiley, 1971.Google Scholar
  16. Komarovsky, M. Blue collar marriage. New York: Random House, 1967.Google Scholar
  17. LaGaipa, J. J., & Werner, R. E. Attraction and relevancy of attitude similarity-dissimilarity: Impersonal topics and friendship beliefs. Psychonomic Science 1971, 22 83–84.Google Scholar
  18. Lopata, H. Z. Occupation: Housewife. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971.Google Scholar
  19. Lowenthal, M., Thurnher, M., Chirrboga, D., & Associates, Four stages of life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1976.Google Scholar
  20. Morgan, B. Intimacy of self-disclosure topics and sex differences in self-disclosure. Sex Roles 1976, 2 161–166.Google Scholar
  21. Olczak, P. V., & Goldman, J. A. Self-actualization as a moderator of the relationship between attitude similarity and attraction. Journal of Psychology 1975, 89 195–202.Google Scholar
  22. Phillips, G. M., & Metzger, N. J. Intimate communication. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1976.Google Scholar
  23. Pierce, R. A. Need similarity and complementarity as determinants of friendship choice. Journal of Psychology 1970, 76 231–238.Google Scholar
  24. Pleck, J., & Sawyer, J. Men and masculinity. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1974.Google Scholar
  25. Rands, M., & Levinger, G. Implicit theories of relationship: An intergenerational study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1979, 37 645–661.Google Scholar
  26. Secord, P., & Backman, C. Interpersonal congruency, perceived similarity, and friendship. Sociometry 1964, 27 115–127.Google Scholar
  27. Statistical Abstracts of the United States. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1978.Google Scholar
  28. Sullivan, H. S. The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York: Norton, 1953.Google Scholar
  29. Suttles, G. D. Friendship as a social institution. In G. J. McCall (Ed.), Social relationships. Chicago: Aldine, 1970. Pp. 95–325.Google Scholar
  30. Turner, C. Conjugal roles and social networks: A re-examination of an hypothesis. Human Relations 1967, 20 121–130.Google Scholar
  31. Wright, P. H. Toward a theory of friendship based on a conception of self. Human Communication Research 1978, 4 196–207.Google Scholar
  32. Young, M., & Willmott, P. Family and kinship in East London. Baltimore: Penguin, 1957.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth J. Aries
    • 1
  • Fern L. Johnson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyAmherst CollegeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communication StudiesUniversity of MassachusettsUSA

Personalised recommendations