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Same- and cross-sex friendship and the psychology of homosociality

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Abstract

The present study investigated the homosocial preferences and the functions, formation, and maintenance characteristics of same- and cross-sex friendships for a sample of 90 young adults, ages 20 to 28 years. Single women and married participants of both sexes evidenced a definite preference for same-sex friendships. The expectations associated with same-sex friendship functioning were found to be similar for both sexes. Cross-sex friendships were reported by both women and men as providing less help and loyalty than same-sex relationships. Otherwise, cross-sex friendship functioning was described by men as closely resembling same-sex friendships, but women reported cross-sex relations as providing less acceptance, less intimacy, and more companionship than same-sex ones. Friendship formation and maintenance for same- and cross-sex friendships were also found to differ significantly. The results are discussed in terms of Lipman-Blumen's [In M. Blaxall & B. Reagan (Eds.), Women and the workplace. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976, pp. 15–32] theory of homosociality.
... Research on cross-gender relationships has demonstrated that women have less to gain when forming relationships with men (Rose, 1985). Suzanna Rose examined cross-gender relationships and found that men sought to establish friendships due to sexual attraction (Rose, 1985). ...
... Research on cross-gender relationships has demonstrated that women have less to gain when forming relationships with men (Rose, 1985). Suzanna Rose examined cross-gender relationships and found that men sought to establish friendships due to sexual attraction (Rose, 1985). Once friendships were established (often after one or both people did not wish to pursue Fag hags no more 19 anything more), men found cross-gender friendships to function very similarly to their other friendships. ...
... Once friendships were established (often after one or both people did not wish to pursue Fag hags no more 19 anything more), men found cross-gender friendships to function very similarly to their other friendships. However, women found that cross-gender friendships were less loyal, accepting, and intimate (Rose, 1985). Rose's study did not survey the sexual orientation of participants, so it's unclear how sexual identity influenced the cross-gender friendships surveyed. ...
... A study of adults' friendships in a housing project found that 73% of the friends reported by participants were of the same gender (Nahemow & Lawton, 1975). Another classic study investigating the friendships of married people at midlife found that almost half of the women (47%) and a third of men (33%) surveyed did not have a single cross-gender friend besides their spouse (Rose, 1985). ...
... In addition, there may be fewer opportunity structures for cross-gender friendship formation at midlife (O'Meara, 1989) especially for those who work in gender-segregated professions, or those who are no longer working at all. The homosocial norm-the belief that friendships should only occur between people of the same gender-also inhibits the formation of cross-gender friendships (Monsour, 2002;Rose, 1985), which may especially be the case for older people. In our culture heterosexuality is positioned as normative, leading cross-gender friendships to be met with suspicion and disapproval (Savin-Williams, 2005) especially if one or both of the friends have spouses (O'Meara, 1989). ...
Article
We investigated gender segregation and its correlates in the friendships of U.S. adults aged 50–74 years (177 women; 52 men). Gender segregation existed in our midlife sample such that 74% of friend nominations were same gender. Similar to research on other periods of the adult lifespan we found that for women, gender segregation was negatively correlated with competitive activity orientation, positively correlated with beliefs about same-gender peers’ communicative responsiveness and negatively correlated with beliefs about other-gender peers’ communicative responsiveness. Women’s gender segregation was also negatively correlated with masculinity and positively correlated with gender-reference group identity. For men, gender segregation was negatively correlated with beliefs about other-gender peers’ communicative responsiveness and positively correlated with gender-reference group identity. Our results suggest that gender segregation continues to exist at midlife and that there is some continuity in the correlates of gender segregation across adulthood.
... (Afifi & Faulkner, 2000;Bleske & Buss, 2000;Kaplan & Keys, 1997;O'Meara, 1989;Reeder, 2000;Rose, 1985;Swain, 1992).The idea that mating psychology may drive OSF preferences has been advanced by Lewis et al. (2011Lewis et al. ( , 2012 who have provided empirical evidence for the mating activation hypothesis (Lewis et al., 2012). Indeed, they showed that there is a close parallel between OSF preferences and mate preferences, as men prioritized physical attractiveness of their OSFs, while women prioritized their male friends' ability to provide protection and economic resources (Lewis et al., 2011;see Walter et al., 2020). ...
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The fact that men and women experience sexual attraction toward their opposite-sex friends has been evidenced in various studies. It has also been shown that there is a close parallel between preferences for opposite-sex friends and mate preferences, i.e., that men prioritize physical attractiveness of their OSFs, while women prioritize their male friends’ ability to provide protection and economic resources. Although this mating activation hypothesis has been validated to an extent, there is hardly any research that points to moderating factors which would define the boundary conditions for these effects. We present two studies that involved heterosexual participants who were in a committed relationship and at the same time had a heterosexual opposite-sex friend. We investigated how both the qualities of one’s current partner and the qualities of one’s opposite-sex friend shape sexual interest in opposite-sex friends for men and women. Results mostly support the mating activation hypothesis. We show that within actual cross-sex friendships: 1) physical attractiveness of opposite-sex friends predicts sexual interest toward them, and this effect is stronger for men than women, 2) current partner’s attractiveness, provided support, and relationship satisfaction moderate this effect only for women, and not men, 3) perceived financial resources of opposite-sex friends predict sexual interest toward them for highly sexually unrestricted women, and, surprisingly, for those who are in committed relationships with high-income men. The results reaffirm previous evidence indicating that perceptions of opposite-sex friends can be viewed as a manifestation of evolved human mating strategies.
... A major focus of previous research on friendship addressed similarity/homophily [1] with the typical finding that both men and women generally prefer same-sex over cross-sex friendships [2] . However, the variance in these preferences is substantial: Some people have zero, others have a few, and still others have exclusively cross-sex friends in their social network [3] . ...
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In friendship research, a common finding is that most people prefer same-sex over cross-sex friendships (homo- as opposed to heterosociality). However, studies have also shown that there is considerable variance within these preferences. Accordingly, most people report having at least one cross-sex friend, and some people report having only cross-sex friendships. The present research uses a variety of personality factors to explain these interindividual differences in homo-/heterosociality. In three studies (N = 265, 331, and 1,039 participants), we examined the Big Five, self-esteem, self-esteem stability, gender role identity, homophobia, and the 2D:4D finger length ratio as biomarkers of testosterone as potential predictors. We found that the best predictors depended on the participants’ sex and on the type of friendship (i.e., male participants’ same-sex and cross-sex friendships, female participants’ same-sex and cross-sex friendships). We discuss that ignoring these dependences and distinctions may lead to biased conclusions in friendship studies.
... In both sexes, only a minority of best friends were opposite-sex (15% for females; 22% in males). The gender homophily is itself striking, and probably reflects the fact that social networks are highly assortative for sex (Block and Grund 2014;Mehta and Strough 2009;Roberts et al. 2008;Rose 1985;Dunbar 2021). Even conversations readily segregate by sex once they contain more than four individuals (Dunbar 2016b;Dahmardeh and Dunbar 2017). ...
Article
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Objectives: Close romantic and friendship relationships are crucial for successful survival and reproduction. Both provide emotional support that can have significant effects on an individual’s health and wellbeing, and through this their longer term survival and fitness. Nonetheless, the factors that create and maintain intimacy in close relationships remain unclear. Nor is it entirely clear what differentiates romantic relationships from friendships in these terms. In this paper, we explore which factors most strongly predict intimacy in these two kinds of relationship, and how these differ between the two sexes. Results: Aside from best friendships being highly gendered in both sexes, the dynamics of these two types of relationships differ between the sexes. The intimacy of female relationships was influenced by similarity (homophily) in many more factors (notably dependability, kindness, mutual support, sense of humour) than was the case for men. Some factors had opposite effects in the two sexes: gift-giving had a negative effect on women’s friendships and a positive effect on men’s, whereas shared histories had the opposite effect. Conclusion: These results confirm and extend previous findings that the dynamics of male and female relationships are very different in ways that may reflect differences in their functions.
... 165 Evidence does suggest that, as when choosing mating partners, individuals are sensitive 166 to characteristics of the self, friend, and environmental conditions when choosing friends. 167 People's friends tend to be similar to themselves in terms of characteristics such as age, gender, 168 socioeconomic status, ethnicity, family background, and political or religious preferences, and 169 these similarities tend to be strongest for one's closest friends (Fehr, 1996;Rose, 1985; 170 Verbrugge, 1977). People are also more likely to form friendships with those with whom they 171 are frequently in close proximity, for example those on the same floor of an apartment 172 building, compared to those on other floors (Fehr, 1996). ...
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Many species employ conditional strategies for reproduction or survival. In other words, each individual “chooses” one of two or more possible phenotypes to maximize survival or reproductive advantage given specific ecological niche conditions (e.g., Moran, 1992). Humans seem to employ at least one conditional reproductive strategy, choosing between a more short-term or a more long-term mating strategy (Gangestad & Simpson, 2000), and as with non-human animals, their choices relate in part to an assessment of their own traits (Belsky, 1997; Schmitt, 2005). However, the selection pressures that individuals of a species can exert on each other are not restricted to mate selection; they can arise from many forms of social interaction (West-Eberhard, 1983; Wolf, Brodie, & Moore, 1999). Evidence suggests that individuals are sensitive to characteristics of the self, friend, and environmental conditions when choosing friends (Fehr, 1996; Rose, 1985; Verbrugge, 1977), and that a person’s economic, social, and environmental circumstances influence how they form and organize their friendships (Adams & Allan, 1998; Feld & Carter, 1998). Thus, in this paper I hypothesize that humans have evolved a coherent range of conditional friendship strategies: that we vary predictably in terms of the friendships we form, based on an assessment of our own traits, others’ traits, and our own current needs. I propose a continuum of individual differences in friendship strategy, anchored on one end by those who use friendships for exploration (e.g., skill-building and networking) and on the other end by those who use friendships for intimate exchange (e.g., emotional support and intimacy). I created a measure assessing this continuum, and found that men tended to report a stronger exploration strategy than women. I also found that people with a stronger exploration strategy also had a more short-term mating strategy and were more extroverted, and that people with a stronger intimate exchange strategy reported themselves to be more kind and generous; these results remained when controlling for gender. However, friendship strategy did not relate to socioeconomic status, age, attachment avoidance, relationship status, or presence of kin relationships. There was some evidence that friendship strategy was related to the number of friends an individual reported having and how close they felt to their friends.
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Childhood gender segregation, the tendency for children to form acquaintanceships and friendships with those of the same gender (Mehta & Smith, 2019), has been proposed to be a universal phenomenon (Maccoby, 1998; Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974). However, as socialization and peer culture vary cross-culturally (Munroe & Romney, 2006), gender segregation may vary according to cultural context. This paper uses a sociocontextual framework to review cross-cultural comparative research on childhood gender segregation, considering cultural similarities and variations in correlates of gender segregation, including behavioral compatibility, age, the homosocial norm, availability of playmates, familiarity with peers, and gendered societal norms and constraints. In closing, the paper reflects on what cross-cultural research tells us about gender segregation and offers recommendations for future research.
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The structural opportunities and normal constraints affecting the cross sex friendships of men and women were explored. Interview data from 800 middle aged and elderly urban residents revealed that, while only a minority report cross sex friends, they constitute a significant segment of the interpersonal resources of a number of adults. Women had fewer opportunities and were subject to more constraints with respect to the formation of cross sex friendship ties than men.
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