Volume 4

Gender Differences in the Perception of Friendship Intimacy: The Importance of Conversation Topic and Intimacy

Alyssa Peltzman & Kimberly Burns

College students (n = 104) were randomly assigned to reading one of four conversation-silhouette scenarios. Each packet contained either an intimate pose or non-intimate pose, paired with either an intimate conversation or a non-intimate conversation. The intimate pose depicted two seated genderless figures engaged in conversation, making direct eye contact. The non-intimate pose also depicted two genderless figures engaged in conversation, making indirect eye contact. Conversations were either issue-based or event-based. Participants then completed measures designed to assess social intimacy, isolation, loneliness, and emotional expressivity. Results indicated that the intimate pose was identified as more intimate than the non-intimate pose. Results also indicated that women rated their friendships as more intimate than men. Men reported that they were less intimate and expressive with their friends than women. Correlational analyses indicated that loneliness was inversely related to self-reported levels of social intimacy and emotional expressiveness for both genders.

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