Reexamining Gender Differences in Same-Gender Friendships: A Close Look at Two Kinds of Data

Duck, Steve; Wright, Paul H.
June 1993
Sex Roles;Jun93, Vol. 28 Issue 11-12, p709
Academic Journal
The present paper examines the widely accepted claim that women's and men's friendships can be characterized dichotomously as ‘expressive’ vs. ‘instrumental,’ or alternatively, as ‘communal’ vs. ‘agentic.’ After addressing questions about the empirical support for this claim, we present analyses based on two different kinds of data. Subjects providing these data were predominantly, although possibly not exclusively, Caucasian U.S. citizens. Study One analyzed the purposes of interaction endorsed by women and men in reports of actual meetings with same-sex friends. Women and men did not differ in the purposes reported, as both indicated meeting most often just to talk, less often to work on a task, and least often to deal with a relationship issue pertinent to the friendship. Study Two analyzed responses to a form assessing various aspects of the strength and quality of subjects' same-gender friendships. Although women and men differed on a number of variables, the differences did not form an expressive vs. instrumental dichotomy. We discuss an altered perspective on the differences and similarities in women's and men's friendships suggested by these results.


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