Young Adults’ Conversational Strategies During Negotiation and Self-Disclosure in Same-Gender and Mixed-Gender Friendships

Abstract

Actor gender and partner gender effects on conversational strategies were investigated among young adult friends during assigned negotiation and self-disclosure tasks. The sample comprised 146 same- or mixed-gender friendship pairs (age range = 17–23) of U.S. undergraduates from diverse ethnic-racial backgrounds (52% White, 19% Latinx, 17% Asian, 18% other). Pairs of same-gender friends or mixed-gender friends were assigned a negotiation task and a self-disclosure task while their conversations were video-recorded. Dyadic analyses were conducted using hierarchical linear modeling to assess actor gender and partner gender effects on conversational strategies. During the negotiation task, women were more likely than men were to use affiliative strategies (requests, indirect suggestions, justifications); in contrast, men were more likely to use self-emphasizing strategies (direct suggestions). In the self-disclosure task, women were more likely than men to express self-disclosing statements and to provide reflective listening responses to friends’ disclosures (e.g., elaborations, backchannel interjections) especially in same-gender pairs. In contrast, men were more likely to use distancing responses (e.g., negative comments). Most effect sizes were small. Finally, participants’ ratings of conflict in the friendship were related to the likelihood of some speech strategies in both tasks. Findings highlight the contexts of gender-related variations in language use among young adult friends.

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Acknowledgments

The present research was supported by grants in 1996 and 1997 to the author from the Social Sciences Division and the Academic Senate of the University of California, Santa Cruz. The following are appreciated for their assistance in the study: Kristin Anderson, Jessica Alys, Desiree Atkins, Danna Barker, Michelle Bialon, Katie Boehm, Clover Bolton, Angela Boyd, Briana Carr, Grace Cho, Stephanie Corp, Amanda Crawford, Deverie DeMornay, Robyn Hannon, Keri Herscovitch, Aimee Jurewicz, John Leonard, Mary Luisi, Jenny McCloskey, Amanda Crawford, Dorothy Dichter, Bree Marchman, Danielle Marchman, Kimberly Martin, Jessica McGuire, Lara Meyer, Jennifer Michels, Dawn Mikolyski, Niosha Nafei, Kristen O’Shea, Mary Perugini, Winnie Poon, Freja Rasmussen, Rachael Robnett, Amy Rydell, Stacey Selevan, Christine Sparks, Martine Starita, Matilda St. John, Lise Torrey, Suzanne Toth, Julie Vierra, Kim Walter, and Jessica Young.

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Leaper, C. Young Adults’ Conversational Strategies During Negotiation and Self-Disclosure in Same-Gender and Mixed-Gender Friendships. Sex Roles 81, 561–575 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-019-1014-0

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Keywords

  • Gender
  • Friendship
  • Conversation
  • Negotiation
  • Self-disclosure
  • Listening
  • Male female relations