There are at least two levels of analyses to the study of gender and friendship.
1. Dispositional level of analysis: emphasizes the characteristics of the person as a determinant of friendship. What characteristics of a person predict friendship? One attribute of a person is his or her sex; another is his or her gender role. An example of a dispositional analysis is the research showing that women’s relationships are more intimate than those of men because women are more likely than men to self-disclose.
2. Structural level of analysis that emphasizes the different positions of women and men in society. One position or role in society that men traditionally have held more than women is the paid employee role. An example of a structural level of analysis is the research showing that men have more cross-sex friendships than women because men are more likely than women to work outside the home. The structural level of analysis also calls attention to the impact of situational variables on gender and friendship.
Difference in friends:
Most studies show that boys and girls have a similar number of friends. However, boys may have larger social networks compared to girls due to the structural differences in boys’ play versus girls’ play described in the previous chapter. Girls are more likely to interact in dyads and to spend time talking to one another, whereas boys are more likely to spend time in large groups that are focused on some activity.
▪ It is unlikely that network size differs vastly between girls and boys or between women and men.
▪ It may appear at times that boys have more friends than girls, because boys play in larger groups than girls.
▪ The primary difference in the nature of men’s and women’s friendships is that an activity is the focus of men’s interactions and conversation is the focus of women’s interactions. This difference first appears during childhood and then persists through adolescence and adulthood.
▪ It is clear that female friendships are more communal than those of males, but the sex difference in the instrumentality of friendship is less clear. Regardless of whether there is a sex difference in shared activities, men and women may spend time sharing activities in different ways so that shared activities are more intimate for women than for men.
▪ Although some of these findings generalize to different cultures, there are ethnic differences in friendship within the United States. The female emphasis on self-disclosure and the male lack of self-disclosure are more characteristic of White people’s friendships than the friendships of other ethnic groups.
▪ Both men and women want the same things from friendship and view self-disclosure, empathy, trust, and expressions of support as the most important features of a friendship.
▪ Both women and men engage in casual conversation with friends, view egalitarianism and similarity as central to friendship, and believe fun and relaxation are important aspects of friendship.
▪ When men’s interactions involve a woman, they can be just as intimate as women’s interactions.
▪ Females have closer same-sex friendships than males.
▪ The lack of closeness in male same-sex friendships is not due to men being incapable of intimacy; instead, men prefer not to behave intimately with their same- sex friends.
▪ The similarities in women’s and men’s definitions of intimacy greatly outweigh the differences.
▪ Women engage in more self-disclosure than men.
▪ Women are especially likely to disclose to women over men. It is unclear whether men disclose more to women or men; it may depend on the topic of disclosure.
▪ Men are clearly capable of self-disclosure (just as they are capable of intimacy) but seem to prefer not to engage in it. Men can be motivated to self-disclose to women when they are interested in establishing a relationship.
▪ Male friendship is more overtly competitive than female friendship. Competition among females is more likely to be covert.
▪ There are different kinds of competition, only some of which may be barriers to intimacy among men. Hyper- competitiveness is one such form of competition.
▪ Males may score higher than females on other kinds of competition, such as competition for social comparison or personal development competition, but these kinds of competition are not likely to inhibit intimacy.
▪ Homophobia limits intimacy among men’s same-sex friendships. Men do not want to appear to be homosexual and infer homosexuality from expressions of affection between men.
▪ Men refrain from expressing emotion in their relationships with other men, because expressing emotion is viewed as weakness and as feminine. It is difficult to be close to someone when you hide your feelings from them.
▪ Another reason that men do not disclose as much as women is because people do not respond as favorably to self-disclosure by men compared to women. If people have negative views of men who disclose their problems, it is not surprising that men are reluctant to ask for help.
▪ Although women’s relationships are closer than those of men, women may experience more conflict and less stability in their relationships.
▪ Women and men may respond to conflict in different ways.
▪ Women may be more likely than men to confront conflict in their relationships, but women may be more in- direct than men in expressing their relationship concerns.
▪ For women, same-sex friendships are closer than cross- sex friendships.
▪ Men, by contrast, seem to gain more from cross-sex friendships than same-sex friends in terms of emotional support and intimacy.
▪ Cross-sex friendships serve some important functions that same-sex friendships do not, such as emotional support for men, companionship for women, and the perspective of the other sex for both women and men.
▪ Cross-sex friendships face a number of challenges: emotional bond, sexual, equality, audience, and opportunity.
▪ The greatest challenges seem to be the emotional bond and sexual challenges. Sexual attraction is not uncommon in cross-sex friendship and seems to be more common among men than women.
▪ Children have more cross-race friendships than adults.
▪ Barriers to cross-race friendship are both dispositional, for example prejudice, and structural, for example opportunity structure.
▪ Friendship may be especially important in the lives of gay men and lesbians to the extent that they have less available support from family.
▪ Similarity is an important guiding principle in the development of friendship among gays and lesbians as it is with heterosexuals—with the exception of matching on sex, which may be more difficult for gay men and matching on sexual orientation, which may be more difficult for gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals due to reduced availability.
▪ Friendships with gay/lesbian/bisexual persons and friendships with heterosexual persons are similar in closeness and conflict.
▪ The agentic/communal distinction that characterizes friendship among heterosexuals does not seem to characterize friendship among gay men or lesbians.
▪ The lines between friendship and romantic relationships may be more blurred for gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals because same-sex friends have the potential to be romantic partners.
▪ Friendship at work is increasingly common and tends to be associated with enhanced work productivity and job satisfaction.
▪ Work presents opportunities for the development of cross-sex friendships. Cross-sex friendships may present more advantages to work for women than men.
▪ Friendships at work can present conflict between the friendship role and the worker role.
▪ Friendship takes on an increasingly important role in the lives of adolescents compared to children— especially for females.
▪ Cross-sex friendships are rare among children, peak during adolescence and young adulthood, and diminish substantially among the elderly.
▪ The role of friendship in men’s and women’s lives decreases during early adulthood because family and work roles take up much of people’s free time.
▪ With the departure of children from the home and retirement, friendship takes on an increasingly important role in women’s lives.
▪ Elderly men have difficulty maintaining social ties if their friendships are tied to work.
▪ Widowhood poses more of a problem for men than women because social connections are often maintained by wives, there are fewer men than women available as friends, and there is a norm against cross-sex friendship.
▪ Audience challenge—Concern that cross-sex friends have about how their relationship is viewed by others.
▪ Autonomy versus connectedness—Conflict encountered by friends at work when the regular exposure to one another required by the work relationship begins to interfere with individual feelings of autonomy.
▪ Co-rumination—Discussing problems repeatedly in the context of a relationship.
▪ Dispositional level of analysis—Emphasizes the characteristics of the person as a determinant of friendship.
▪ Emotional bond challenge—Challenge faced by cross-sex friendship whereby the friends must decide if the closeness they feel toward one another is friendship or romantic love.
▪ Equality challenge—Challenge faced by cross-sex friendships because the equality central to friendship conflicts with the status hierarchy typically associated with male/ female relationships.
▪ Homophily—The tendency to form friendships with persons of the same race or ethnicity.
▪ Homophobia—Fear of homosexuality or fear of appearing homosexual.
▪ Impartiality versus favoritism—Situation encountered by friends at work when the desire to give a friend special treatment conflicts with the necessity to treat all workers the same.
▪ Judgment versus acceptance—Difficulty experienced by friends at work when the mutual acceptance expected of friendship conflicts with the requirement that one friend critically evaluate the other.
▪ Openness versus closedness—Situation encountered by friends at work when the expectation of the honest communication central to friendship conflicts with the necessity to keep professional confidences.
▪ Opportunity challenge—Difficulty experienced when attempting to establish a cross-sex friendship that results from the fact that members of the same sex are generally more accessible.
▪ Outgroup homogeneity effect—The tendency to see members of the outgroup s all alike, more similar than different, as compared to the ingroup to which one attributes greater diversity.
▪ Role conflict—Situation that occurs when the demands of one role are inconsistent with the demands of another role.
▪ Sexual challenge—Challenge faced by cross- sex friendship whereby the friends must ask themselves if there is a sexual attraction between them that could lead to a romantic relationship.
▪ Structural level of analysis—Emphasizes the different positions or roles men and women hold in society as a determinant of friendship.
CHAPTER 9 – ROMANTIC RELATIOBSHIPS
• Women and men agree on the most important characteristics of a mate—kind, understanding, honest, trustworthy, sense of humor, open and expressive.
• There are consistent sex differences on traits that are relatively unimportant in choosing a mate: Men weigh physical attractiveness more heavily than do women, and women weigh economic resources more heavily than do men.
• The nature of the relationship influences mate preferences. Sex differences are more likely to appear when the relationship is less serious; men’s and women’s preferences are most similar in serious relationships.
▪ Gay men and lesbians are attracted to a similar set of characteristics in potential mates as heterosexuals. Gay men, like heterosexual men, are interested in a mate’s physical attractiveness—more than lesbians are. However, lesbians, unlike heterosexual women, are not attracted to a potential mate’s financial resources.
▪ People make trade-offs when choosing mates. When trade-offs have to be made, sex differences are minimized, and women and men choose more similar mates.
▪ Sex differences in mate preferences can be explained by evolutionary theory, social role theory, and social construction theory.
▪ The weakness of evolutionary theory is that it cannot explain men’s preferences for women with domestic skills; the weakness of social role theory is that it cannot explain men’s preferences for attractive mates. Both theories, however, can explain why women prefer a mate with greater economic resources.
▪ Social construction theory of mate preferences is supported by cultural differences in mate preferences. Sex differences in mate preferences may be larger in more traditional cultures where men’s and women’s roles are distinct and women have less access to economic resources.
▪ Historically, and still today, society expects men to initiate romantic relationships. Despite this expectation, men may be relatively uncomfortable having this responsibility.
▪ First date scripts for relationship initiation among heterosexuals and homosexuals contain similar components. Just as heterosexual men take the proactive role in relationships more than heterosexual women, gay men are more proactive than lesbians. However, other aspects of the first date script are not divided by sex in homosexual relationships in the way that they are in heterosexual relationships.
▪ On the whole, men and women conceptualize intimacy in the same ways. Intimacy includes expressions of love and appreciation, feelings of happiness and contentment, and self-disclosure.
▪ Sex may be a more important component of intimacy for both heterosexual and homosexual men than women, but it is still not the most important feature of intimacy for men.
▪ Historically, women had a more practical view of love and men had a more romantic view. Today, the sex differences are smaller, but men still tend to hold more romantic ideals than women.
▪ Men and women are equally accepting of sex in serious relationships. In more casual relationships, men are more accepting of sex.
▪ A double standard exists regarding sex in casual relationships, such that it is more acceptable for a man than a woman to engage in premarital sex.
▪ Both men and women are disapproving of extramarital sex, but women show stronger disapproval than men do.
▪ There is some evidence that sex may have different meanings for men and women, especially among younger people. Men have a more recreational view of sex and women a more relational view.
▪ This difference may explain why both women and men perceive that a woman who has an extramarital affair is more serious about the relationship partner than a man who has an extramarital affair.
▪ The age of first sexual experience is lowering, and the majority of young people have sex before marriage de- spite abstinence only education and pledges of virginity.
▪ Abstinence only education and pledges of virginity seem to delay sex but do not postpone sex to marriage and may be associated with less contraceptive use.
▪ Women engage in more relationship maintenance than do men.
▪ Women’s maintenance behaviors are more strongly related to relationship outcomes than men’s maintenance behaviors.
▪ One factor that influences relationship satisfaction is the power balance of the relationship. In general, more egalitarian relationships are associated with relationship satisfaction for both women and men.
▪ There are different ways of conceptualizing egalitarianism: joint participation or separate but equal participation. The latter may not be a truly egalitarian philosophy.
▪ Social exchange theory predicts relationship satisfaction for heterosexuals and gay men but is less applicable to lesbian relationships.
▪ Women’s relationship satisfaction is more affected by characteristics of their partner than is men’s relationship satisfaction.
▪ Homosexual relationships are not inferior in quality to heterosexual relationships.
▪ The same variables that predict relationship satisfaction among heterosexuals predict relationship satisfaction among homosexuals. In terms of commitment, homosexuals face fewer barriers to leaving a relationship than heterosexuals.
▪ In marital interaction studies, women display more negative affect than men and are more likely to reciprocate negative affect than men in distressed couples—leading to the suggestion that women are the emotional barometers in relationships.
▪ The demand/withdraw behavior pattern has been linked to gender. Women are more likely to demand, and husbands are more likely to withdraw.
▪ There are several explanations for this pattern:
- Men and women have a basic conflict in that women want connection, which requires cooperation from a partner, and men want autonomy, which they can achieve on their own.
- Women identify more problems in a relationship than men do. To resolve problems, confrontation or demanding behavior may be necessary.
- The demand/withdraw pattern may be related to the power structure in relationships and the lower status of women.
- Men are less tolerant of physiological arousal than women so they withdraw to avoid arousal.
▪ The demand/withdraw pattern is associated with lower levels of marital satisfaction.
▪ Evolutionary theory predicts that men will be distressed by sexual infidelity, whereas women will be distressed by emotional infidelity. Research shows that both women and men are more distressed by emotional infidelity than sexual infidelity but men are relatively more distressed than women by sexual infidelity.
▪ Cohabitation is becoming more widely accepted, especially among younger people but even among the elderly.
▪ Despite the rise in cohabitation, cohabitation is associated with poor marital outcomes. That is, those who cohabit prior to marriage are less satisfied and more likely to break up after marriage than those who did not cohabit. There are three explanations for this finding:
- There is a selection bias; that is, the kind of people who enter into cohabiting relationships are the kind of people who are more prone to divorce.
- Cohabiting relationships are qualitatively different from marital relationships, especially in terms of commitment level.
- Cohabitation may change the nature of a relationship in a way that makes it less viable upon marriage.
- Cohabitation is less likely to be associated with poor marital outcomes if one cohabited with the eventual marital partner.
Agape—Pure love, a blend of eros and storge.
Demand/withdraw pattern—Interaction episode characterized by one person demanding and the other person not responding or withdrawing.
Equity—State of a relationship in which the ratio of what one puts in and gets out of a relationship equals that of the partner.
Emotional transmission—Situation in which one person’s emotions influence another person’s emotions.
Evolutionary theory—theory which states that social behavior is shaped by survival of genes.
Mania—Manic love, a blend of eros and ludus.
Pragma—Practical love, a blend of storge and ludus.
Script—Schema or cognitive representation for a sequence of events.
Social constructionist theory—Theory states that women’s and men’s behavior is determined by the context in which they are in, which includes the norms or rules of a society.
Social exchange theory—Theory that relationship satisfaction is partly a function of the rewards and costs in the relationship.
Social role theory—Theory that states men’s and women’s behavior is a function of the roles that they hold in society.