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Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs: Cross-Cultural Evidence from Social Networking

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The ability to create lasting, trust-based friendships makes it possible for humans to form large and coherent groups. The recent literature on the evolution of sociality and on the network dynamics of human societies suggests that large human groups have a layered structure generated by emotionally supported social relationships. There are also gender differences in adult social style which may involve different trade-offs between the quantity and quality of friendships. Although many have suggested that females tend to focus on intimate relations with a few other females, while males build larger, more hierarchical coalitions , the existence of such gender differences is disputed and data from adults is scarce. Here, we present cross-cultural evidence for gender differences in the preference for close friendships. We use a sample of *112,000 profile pictures from nine world regions posted on a popular social networking site to show that, in self-selected displays of social relationships , women favour dyadic relations, whereas men favour larger, all-male cliques. These apparently different solutions to quality-quantity trade-offs suggest a universal and fundamental difference in the function of close friendships for the two sexes.
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Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but
Men Prefer Clubs: Cross-Cultural Evidence
from Social Networking
Tamas David-Barrett
*, Anna Rotkirch
, James Carney
, Isabel Behncke Izquierdo
Jaimie A. Krems
, Dylan Townley
, Elinor McDaniell
, Anna Byrne-Smith
, Robin I.
M. Dunbar
1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, South Parks Rd, Oxford, OX1 3UD, United
Kingdom, 2Population Research Institute, Väestöliitto, Kalevankatu 16, 00101, Helsinki, Finland, 3
Department of Social Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 85287, United States of America
The ability to create lasting, trust-based friendships makes it possible for humans to form
large and coherent groups. The recent literature on the evolution of sociality and on the net-
work dynamics of human societies suggests that large human groups have a layered struc-
ture generated by emotionally supported social relationships. There are also gender
differences in adult social style which may involve different trade-offs between the quantity
and quality of friendships. Although many have suggested that females tend to focus on inti-
mate relations with a few other females, while males build larger, more hierarchical coali-
tions, the existence of such gender differences is disputed and data from adults is scarce.
Here, we present cross-cultural evidence for gender differences in the preference for close
friendships. We use a sample of *112,000 profile pictures from nine world regions posted
on a popular social networking site to show that, in self-selected displays of social relation-
ships, women favour dyadic relations, whereas men favour larger, all-male cliques. These
apparently different solutions to quality-quantity trade-offs suggest a universal and funda-
mental difference in the function of close friendships for the two sexes.
The recent literature on both the evolution of sociality and the network dynamics of human
and animal societies [18] suggests that large social groups cannot be fully connected: they
have a layered structure that is generated by emotionally supported social relationships [915].
Although there are structural aspects to social organisation, individual behaviour is crucially
shaped by dyadic relationships. It may be that preferred patterns of relationships vary by gen-
der in a way that typically reflects sex differences in reproductive strategies [1619].
For instance, friendships or close and prolonged affiliation with non-kin are characterised
by homophily, so that people typically choose friends of the same age and gender (for recent
PLOS ONE | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0118329 March 16, 2015 1/15
Citation: David-Barrett T, Rotkirch A, Carney J,
Behncke Izquierdo I, Krems JA, Townley D, et al.
(2015) Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but
Men Prefer Clubs: Cross-Cultural Evidence from
Social Networking. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0118329.
Academic Editor: Luo-Luo Jiang, Wenzhou
University, CHINA
Received: April 12, 2014
Accepted: January 3, 2015
Published: March 16, 2015
Copyright: © 2015 David-Barrett et al. This is an
open access article distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits
unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original author and source are
Data Availability Statement: All relevant data are
within the paper and its Supporting Information files.
Funding: This study was supported by EU FP7 EINS
grant agreement No 288021 to TDB, European
Research Council Advanced grant to RD, EU Marie
Curie Fellowship, grant agreement No 297854 to JC.
The funders had no role in study design, data
collection and analysis, decision to publish, or
preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared
that no competing interests exist.
reviews see [2022]). Sex differences in reproductive strategies also shape adult social behav-
iour [20,2326] and may reflect different trade-offs between the quantity and quality of friend-
ships. Thus, it has been suggested that females invest more heavily in a few, high-quality and
time-consuming friendships, while males prefer groups with less investment per member, and
higher group cohesion [2730].
There is reason to believe these gender differences have evolutionary roots. First, sex differ-
ences in friendship emerge early [31], are quite apparent already in small children and appear
to increase with age [21,32,33]. Second, similar gender patterns exist in some non-human pri-
mates [13,34]. One obvious explanation is that male peer sociality evolved to enable hunting,
coalitionary support for within-group dominance, and/or defence in larger groups, while wom-
ens peer sociality is to a greater extent shaped by their higher investment in reproduction and
child rearing, as well as their historically more frequent experience of out-migration and the
need to integrate into a patrilocal society with few, if any, kin [18,20,25]. Patrilocality is also the
norm for chimpanzees and bonobos, lending further support to female transfer being the norm
throughout hominin evolution [35,36].
However, the scope of human gender differences is disputed. Several studies found few sex
differences in the number of close non-related friends that an individual turns to for help and
assistance [4,3742] while others detect crucial differences in the quantity and intensity of
male and female peer ties [16,23,24,30,32,4345]. Sex differences also depend on which compo-
nent of friendship is being studied, as well as the age and culture of the subjects. For instance,
the review by Rose and Rudolph [21] found that girls have a greater preference for extended
dyadic interactions and prosocial behaviour, while boys interact more in peer groups with a
high network density and clear dominance hierarchy. But gender differences are negligible con-
cerning the expectations males and females have of friends and in the symmetrical reciprocity
they expect from them [22]. In any case, documented sex differences tend to be small or medi-
um-size rather than large [22,46].
All reviews stress the need for more friendship research on adults and on people from other
than WEIRD[47] societies [21,22,46]. Most research on friendships has involved children or
teenagers, and there is to date only limited and mixed evidence for gender differences in adult
human friendships [20,38,4850]. Here, we use data from a social media site to explore gender
differences in close peer relations. We hypothesised that social relations among same-aged
adults would exhibit gender homophily and would vary by gender, such that men would exhib-
it higher numbers of friends compared to women.
Methods and Data
To investigate close friendships in the two sexes, we used Facebook Profile Pictures following
the example of recent literature that deals with social networking data [5154]. Facebook is the
most popular global social networking site, the primary function of which is to fulfil psychoso-
cial needs for belonging and self-presentation [55]. Upon signing up, each user may choose a
Profile Picture, which represents the user to the rest of the Facebook community, is public, and
appears at the top of the users profile and as the icon next to the users name wherever he or
she posts on the site. Each user can have only one Profile Picture at a time. Usually the picture
features the user only. When the picture displays peers they tend to be the user with friends or
acquaintances [51]. The choice of profile pictures is related to the users desired impression for-
mation [55]. This impression is not, however, too detached from the real world: Facebook user
profiles have been found to reflect actual rather than idealised identities [56]. We thus assume
that Profile photographs of peers are likely to align with behavioural inclinations, and thus pro-
vide a reliable proxy for relationship preferences.
Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs
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Data collection
We used random search terms to select 309 users (seeds) of Facebook who shared their batch
of friends publicly. (The 309 users had on average 362 friends.) In the first wave of data collec-
tion, we located the Profile Pictures of all the friends of each of these users (111,863 Profile Pic-
tures in total); each photograph was categorised with respect to the type of the picture, and the
number and gender of the persons displayed (see Table 1). Data collection took place between
July 2011 and January 2012.
Additional information was collected in two further waves. In the first of these (wave 2),
geographical data based on geographical location was collected to control for cultural differ-
ences. The coders were provided with a list of geographic regions: Europe (56 seeds), Central
and South Asia (16), Latin America (9), Middle East and North Africa (14), North America
(14), South East Asia (43), Sub-Saharan Africa (7), Australia (9), East Asia (19), or cant tell re-
gion(21). In the second (wave 3), we used a finer classification of the number of people shown
in Profile Pictures: the first two waves classified all pictures with four or more individuals as a
single category, but in wave 3 this was extended to specify individual numbers up to 20.
The coding was done by 8 coders, all but two of whom were research assistants at the Uni-
versity of Oxford. All coders bar one (the lead author) were blind during the coding phase,
knowing only that the project was to study gender differences on social networking sites. Cod-
ers were instructed to avoid any discussion of the project amongst themselves during the cod-
ing phase. All results presented in this paper are robust to the elimination of each of the coders,
each of the regions, and the type of Profile Pictures displayed by the seeds.
We used only publicly available pictures. No pictures or other information associated with
this research was either separately downloaded or stored. The research project was approved
Table 1. Coding categories.
Code Description Tally %
NH Not human picture: e.g., object, landscape, monster, car, or any picture with an
13,861 12.9
NA Not publicly available (or Facebook default prole) 1,626 1.5
NP Multiple people but not peer: e.g., mother-child, a family 2,651 2.5
CB Child or baby 3,470 3.2
MP Multiple pictures, collage 1,961 1.8
CTG Cant tell gender 2,447 2.3
1F 1 female 32,208 30
2F 2 females 3,508 3.3
3F 3 females 945 0.9
4F 4 females 384 0.4
1M 1 male 30,279 28.2
2M 2 males 2,326 2.2
3M 3 males 935 0.9
4M 4 males 388 0.4
1F1M 1 female + 1 male (e.g. a couple) 6,769 6.3
1F2M 1 female + 2 males 329 0.3
2F1M 2 females + 1 male 359 0.3
1F3M 1 female + 3 males 106 0.1
2F2M 2 females + 2 males (e.g. two couples) 185 0.2
3F1M 3 females + 1 male 110 0.1
5+ Five or more people on the picture 2,433 2.3
Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs
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by the Central University Research Ethics Committee of University of Oxford, and each coder
received a full research ethics briefing before joining the coding team.
Data exclusion
As adult interpersonal processes were our focus here, we excluded all Profile Pictures that con-
tained a non-human figure, a baby or child, people of markedly different ages (as judged by the
coders), pictorial collages (i.e. pictures composed of multiple, distinct or coloured photos), a
person or people whose gender(s) were unidentifiable or that did not contain a person. 81,246
Profile Pictures remained, of which 19,984 (26%) contained more than one person. For an
overview of the data see Fig. 1.
Gender homophily
First, we studied gender homophily in profile pictures. As expected, if the Profile Pictures dis-
played three or more persons (7.6% of Profile Pictures displaying adults), they tended to be the
same gender, confirming our gender homophily hypothesis (Fig. 1).
Fig 1. The ratio of men in Profile Pictures (with same age adults only) as a function the number of persons in the picture. The value corresponding to
each nadds up to 1. The size of the disks denotes the share in the ratio at that particular bin. Crossing points on the grid are the only possible points given the
discrete nature of the data.
Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs
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The gender ratio on Profile Pictures persons exhibited a tri-modal distribution (see Fig. 2).
In Profile Pictures with 512 persons, the frequencies for women-only, men-only, and equal
gender ratios are 15.5%, 40.6%, 15.7%. (Note that for n<5 the trimodality cannot exist, while
for very large nthe male groups dominate to such an extent that only one modality is left.)
These are above the frequencies for all other combinations: pictures with both genders but un-
equally represented (such as one woman and two men) were significantly less common. Given
that the population mean is approximately balanced, this finding suggests a strong
gender homophily.
This preference for same-sex friends was further supported by the subsample that contains
Profile Pictures displaying fewer than 5 people. While pictures with two persons showed a
higher mixed than same gender frequency (sample average (2F+2M)/1F1M-1 = -0.123 (boot-
strapping mean -0.122 and s.d. 0.044), likely indicative of pictures of romantic couples, both
the 3-person pictures (sample average 2(3F+3M)/(1F2M+2F1M)-1 = 4.34 (bootstrapping
mean 4.36 and s.d. 0.39) and the 4-person pictures (sample average 3(4F+4M)/(1F3M+2F2M+
3F1M)-1 = 4.78 (bootstrapping mean 4.75 and s.d. 0.51) had a much higher same-gender fre-
quency compared to mixed-gender frequency (Fig. 3A).
Male propensity towards displaying more people
Studying the gender composition of peer groups indicated that, when Profile Pictures display a
large group of people, they tend to be all male, which was in line with our expectations. In
Fig 2. Relative frequencies of different gender ratios for groups where 5<=n<= 12. The distribution shows a trimodal pattern with women-only,
gender-equal and men-only gender ratios significantly above zero.
Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs
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Fig 3. Bootstrap histograms. Panel (a): the ratio of same gender Profile Pictures compared to mixed
gender profile pictures (probability corrected); green, red, and blue lines correspond to n = 2, 3, and 4. Panel
Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs
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groups of three or four persons, men and women had the same propensity to appear in same-
gender Profile Pictures (Table 1). However, larger groups were predominantly male, and in-
creasingly so as the group size grows (Fig. 4).
The male propensity to be part of larger groups was further supported by the fact that men
appear together with more people than do women (Fig. 3B). For groups with 24 peers of the
same gender, men appeared in pictures with 2.47 people on (bootstrapping mean 2.47, s.d.
0.01), as opposed to 2.35 of women (bootstrapping mean 2.35, s.d. 0.01), which are significantly
different from each other (p<0.0001). For groups with 220 peers of any gender, men appeared
with 2.90 (bootstrapping mean 2.90, s.d. 0.07), as opposed to 2.54 of women (bootstrapping
mean 2.54, s.d. 0.05) which are also significantly different from each other (p<<0.0001). This
suggests that independently of gender combinations and group size, men tend to appear with a
larger number of people displayed in Profile Pictures.
(b): the number of people on a Profile Picture men (red) or women (blue) appear on; straight lines: same
gender with nbetween 2 and 4, dashed lines: mixed gender with nbetween 2 and 4, dotted lines: mixed
gender with nbetween 2 and 20. Panel (c): the ratio of the frequency of same-gender pictures between the
genders; green: pictures with 1 person, red: 2 persons, brown: 3 persons, and blue: 4 persons. (100,000
bootstrapping repeats.)
Fig 4. The ratio of same-gender women-only to men-only frequencies (nF/nM as function of n). Gray lines denote a one-standard-deviation band from
bootstrapping. Above n>4, men-only groups dominate, while women-only groups become extremely rare. The linear OLS coefficient of nF/nM as a function
of n is negative, with R
= 0.86, and p<0.01
Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs
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Women focus on dyadic relationships
Finally, we detected an unexpectedly strong female focus on same gender dyads. Women not
only tended to appear in Profile Pictures displaying a smaller number of people, as expected in
the second research hypothesis, but there was also a strong preference towards pictures con-
taining two women (Fig. 3C). There were 50.8% more pictures with two female peers than pic-
tures with two male peers (bootstrapping mean 51.5, s.d. 14.8). This is especially remarkable
given that same-gender pictures with 1, 3, or 4 or more people had an almost perfect gender
balance: there were only 6.4% more pictures with one woman only in our dataset than with one
man only (bootstrapping mean 7.2, with s.d. 14.1), only 1.1% more pictures with three women
than with three men (bootstrapping mean 1.7, s.d. 10.8), and 1.0% fewer pictures with four
women compared to four men (bootstrapping mean 0.5, s.d. 12.5).
Cultural variation
Although there was substantial variation across the different world regions, the main patterns
of our findings were present in each of them(Fig. 5A-C), with only the magnitude of the effect
varying. While a selection bias may theoretically have affected the relatively small local varia-
tion of our results, we find this unlikely: the seeds were randomly selected and at the time of
the data collection 17% of the global adult population was using Facebook. Furthermore, mea-
sures for other than our three main findings reported above were less uniform among the
world regions (Fig. 5D).
Follow-Up Studies
It is possible that the relative prevalence of female-female Profile Pictures in comparison to
male-male ones may not reflect friendship behaviour but either (a) a female preference for put-
ting up pictures of two people of any gender, or (b) a reluctance among men to display pictures
with two male friends, especially in regions where homophobia is common. We tested both of
these alternative explanations.
First, we tested whether there is a gender difference in the preference for Profile Pictures
containing two people only. We randomly selected 960 new profiles on Facebook with two
same-aged individuals on them. Out of the 960, we were unable to determine the gender of the
account user in 11 cases. Out of the remaining 949 cases, 493 pictures belonged to a man and
456 belonged to a woman. Given the fact that the overall Facebook participation gender ratio is
almost balanced, this result suggests that the probability of women having a strong preference
to put up pictures of two people of any gender is negligible.
Second, we tested if homophobia in the country where the seed owner of the Facebook ac-
count lived would affect the ratio between female and male same-gender two-person pictures.
(To correct for the fact that different countries have different gender ratios among Facebook
users, we used the (2F/1F)/(2M/1M)-1 measure.) As a measure of homophobia, we used the
country level geographical codes of our data, and the corresponding homophobia index for
these countries as calculated by Pew Global [57]. As the homophobia index of Pew Global cov-
ers only the largest 52 countries, we could not test this hypothesis on our entire database. For
the remaining seeds, countries were coded to be low on homophobia if they scored between 0
and 40 for the question Homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by societyand
to be high homophobic countries if they scored between 60 and 100. This gave us 66 seeds liv-
ing in countries with low homophobia and 47 seeds in countries with high homophobia. The
(2F/1F)/(2M/1M)-1 mean for the two groups were 0.63 and 0.52, respectively (Fig. 6). As the
difference is not statistically significant (p = 0.12), and is in the opposite direction to that
Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs
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predicted by the hypothesis, we can conclude that male homophobia is not associated with the
difference between 2F vs 2M frequencies in our dataset.
Human societies are complex, large-scale communities of multi-generational social networks.
At base, however, these networks are built of the small-scale personal networks of individuals.
Our data shed light on the dynamics of these personal networks by providing strong cross-
cultural evidence for the universality of a male propensity to prefer a higher number friend-
ships compared to women. While large women-only groups were almost non-existent in self-
selected Profile Pictures, males were more likely to present themselves as part of large all-male
groupsarguably an essential element of male-male coalitional competition. Our results are
Fig 5. Cultural variation in the main finding. Panel (a): the ratio between same-gender and mixed gender pictures of different group size (corrected by the
probability of appearance, see text). Panel (b): number of close friends (same gender, with groups size 2 to 4). Panel (c): the ratio between same-gender
Profile Pictures as a function of group size (1F/1M normalised to 0). Panel (d): cultural variation in the proportion of single person pictures within all Profile
Pictures in a given global region. (Region codes of Panels a-c: green: Central and South Asia, blue: Europe, dashed blue: Latin America, dashed green:
Middle East and North Africa, dotted blue: North America, dotted green: South-East Asia, red: Sub-Saharan Africa, black: Australia, dashed black: East
Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs
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broadly in line with many previous studies of human friendship [27,30,58,59] which also
found strong gender homophily and male preference for coalitions. This difference in the pre-
ferred number of friends may signal different solutions to the quantity-quality trade-off in so-
cial ties. The emotional quality of a relationship is a positive function of the time invested in it
[39,60], and the closer and more time-demanding a relationship one has, the less time can be
devoted to others [11,24]. At the same time, the amount of social capital available that individ-
uals have to distribute among the members of their personal social networks is limited [61,62].
It thus appears as if women build a densenetwork, while men make alliances based on loose
networks. We also found gender similarity in the preferences for three and four friends,
which may explain part of the inconclusive results in previous studies on sex differences in
friendship numbers.
The male propensity to form coalitions could have emerged from the sexual division of la-
bour in ancestral environments. It was a male responsibility to defend the group against attack
from outsiders, and to do so successfully it was necessary that men band together [20,24]. In
males but not females, then, out-group defence called for coalitional cooperation
and behaviour.
Our finding that women prefer to picture themselves with fewer friends, and thus appear
more often to focus their social capital on only one person at a time, suggests a strong female
preference for dyadic relations. The social benefits of such a female dyadic social style are
harder to pin down, but three alternative hypotheses might be suggested. First, females may
have developed a propensity to form dyadic same-sex friendships as a response to the chal-
lenges of their social environments. Given the likelihood of ancestral patrilocality
Fig 6. Homophobia is not related to the frequency of 2F Profile Pictures, bootstrapping distributions. Blue line: highly homophobic countries; red line:
countries with low homophobia (see text for definitions). Dashed black line: the (2F/1F)/(2M/1M)-1 mean of the entire database. (100,000 bootstrapping
Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs
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[35,36,63,64], adolescent females would often have entered communities where they had few
or no close kin. For females especially, the presence of kin is fitness-enhancing, as has been re-
peatedly shown for both anthropoid primates [65,66] and humans [67,68]. Thus the formation
of emotionally intense, exclusive and sisterlydyadic bonds may have been a means to essen-
tially replace kin [25] and to defend against male and inter-female aggression in the new com-
munity where she did not have female kin [25,69,70]. This mirrors the case of patrilocal
bonobos (Pan paniscus), where females enter foreign communities in adolescence and integrate
into their new group through intense bond formation with another (typically older) female
[71]. A second explanation posits that, since females are the driving agents in human pair-
bond formation, it may be a female-specific sexual strategy to form exclusive dyadic relation-
ships. In this framework, the high frequency of female-female dyads in womens lives might be
a by-product of a preference for pairbonding [12]. A third explanation focuses on females
unique capacity for intense empathic relationships, derived from the mother-infant bond. In
this model, heightened female empathy creates an emphasis on individual relationships as a
consequence of the psychological toolbox of mothering [72,73]. In comparison, males generally
neither have nor require this capacity, and hence they form less emotionally close bonds, those
of friendship included.
These three explanations for gender differences in social stylepatrilocality, pair-bonding
and maternal empathyare difficult to tease apart. Not only is the evolutionary origin of all
primate bonding likely to have arisen out of the mother-infant relationship [74], whatever
forces shaped female friendship thereafter, different ultimate causes (e.g., defence against ag-
gression in a patrilocal society, or assistance among maternal kin) may have used similar proxi-
mate mechanisms (e.g., high reliance on intimate disclosure) making it hard to dissociate
them. Furthermore, recent studies of close friendship as a function of age suggests that women
switch their primary focus from female-female friendships to pairbonding and then to mother-
daughter bonding at different stages of the life cycle [75].
The importance for a female of maintaining close relationships once she has left her natal
group sheds light on the strategies that women use during intrasexual aggression (notably ex-
clusion and relationship-ending gossip [29,69]). If a females bonds to friends and her spouse
are crucial for accessing resourcesfrom food to informationthen breaking these bonds
and/or excluding the female all together can radically affect that individuals fitness, to the ben-
efit of her competitors.
There are, inevitably, some potential limitations to our data. We cannot be sure that co-ap-
pearance on Profile Pictures always reflects real-life social ties. Future research is needed in
order to assess gender differences in offline sociality. However, no existing research suggests
that profile pictures would include imagined or random social relations to any significant ex-
tent (not least because the other person is likely to object) and our results are in line with other
recent findings from online social communities [50]. Displaying Profile Pictures with two or
more people compared to only one person may also reflect some unknown personal psycholog-
ical characteristics or specific life-events of account users; however, such possible characteris-
tics should not affect our main results.
In summary, our results point to striking gender differences in intimate friendship strate-
gies: women prefer close dyadic bonds (with evolutionary origins in either pairbonding or so-
cial insurance purposes, or both), whereas men use their bonding capacity to build multimale
groups (in effect, clubs). This concurs with work on chimpanzees, where females form tight,
kin-based networks and males make loose, easy-to-break alliances [76]. Since similar gendered
bonds are found in our closest primate relatives, they may long predate the evolution of our
species. Among cercopithecine primates, females are disproportionately more likely to invest
in core female friendshipswith matrilineal relatives as group size gets larger, apparently in
Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs
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order to maximise the effectiveness with which these relationships function as social buffers
[1,12,65]. By contrast, chimpanzees [34] and humans may show a tendency to form close
friendships with unrelated females in addition to those they might form with close
female relatives.
Supporting Information
S1 Data. Anonymised profile picture frequency database.
We thank Elena Denaro, Joshua de Gastyne, Erin Simmons, and Cathal Power for assistance in
data collection.
Author Contributions
Conceived and designed the experiments: TDB. Performed the experiments: TDB AR DT EM
ABS. Analyzed the data: TDB. Wrote the paper: TDB AR JC IBI JK RD.
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... Although humans generally value belonging to groups [5], not everybody wants to socialize in groups. Specifically, compared to men, women tend to socialize more in dyadic interactions [6][7][8]. Individual differences also matter, with extroverts and introverts socializing differently [9]. However, to our knowledge, there has been no attempt to examine which individual characteristics are associated with socializing in dyads versus groups. ...
... Furthermore, real-time observations of friendship groups are intrusive and estimating the size of our social world via self-report tends to be unreliable, pointing to the need for creative and indirect ways of measuring the size of friendship groups. Accordingly, a literature search of the terms "dyads", "groups", and "differences" shows that extant studies have identified trait differences between people who socialize in groups versus dyads [6][7][8][9]. Here we present the Friendship Habits Questionnaire (FHQ), a new tool measuring whether one's socializing style is more group versus dyadic-oriented based on individual differences in extraversion, group identification, need for intimacy and competitiveness. ...
... Self-disclosure tends to be higher in dyads than in groups [32]. Research on gender also links intimacy with dyadic-oriented friendships, because women tend to have more dyadic interactions whereas men tend to socialize in groups, a difference observed in different cultures and species [33,34] and replicated in the context of virtual interactions [6]. One potential explanation is that, compared to men, women put greater importance on self-disclosure and intimacy [e.g., 31]. ...
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Friendships are central to our social lives, yet little is known about individual differences associated with the number of friends people enjoy spending time with. Here we present the Friendship Habits Questionnaire (FHQ), a new scale of group versus dyadic-oriented friendship styles. Three studies investigated the psychometric properties of group-oriented friendships and the relevant individual differences. The initially developed questionnaire measured individual differences in extraversion as well as desire for intimacy, competitiveness, and group identification, traits that previous research links with socializing in groups versus one-to-one friendships. In three validation studies involving more than 800 participants (353 men, age M = 25.76) and using principal and confirmatory factor analyses, we found that the structure of the FHQ is best described with four dimensions: extraversion, intimacy, positive group identification, and negative group identification. Therefore, competitiveness was dropped from the final version of the FHQ. Moreover, FHQ scores reliably predicted the size of friendship groups in which people enjoy socializing, suggesting good construct validity. Together, our results document individual differences in pursuing group versus dyadic-oriented friendships and provide a new tool for measuring such differences.
... Generally, in the relationship between social isolation and cognitive performance, gender is typically ignored as a possible moderator and only included as a covariate [14]. Previous studies have shown that males tend to appear together with more people than females, forming large and coherent group [15], which may optimize cognitive function through access to novel and diverse social stimuli, including a range of ideas, information, activities, verbal and nonverbal social cues, faces, and speech patterns [16]. Therefore, it is worthwhile to investigate whether there are gender differences in the relationship between social isolation and cognitive performance. ...
... Several theories have been proposed to explain this difference. There is a discrepancy in social roles; males tend to form larger groups than females, thus stimulating intelligence and buffering against cognitive decline [15]. Another possibility was that providing emotional support and keeping the context of close relationships with similar others could buffer the impact of social isolation on cognitive impairment, while men were more likely than females to have confidants, thus contributing to greater emotional support [33]. ...
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Background This study aimed to examine the bidirectional relationship between social isolation and cognitive performance among Chinese middle-aged and older adults. Methods We used four waves of data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study. A latent growth model (LGM) was applied to examine the association between social isolation and cognitive performance across different characteristics. Results In the analysis, we ultimately included 9,367 participants after excluding respondents with missing key variables. Social isolation and cognitive performance showed significant differences across time. After adjusting for the confounders, there was a significant association between higher social isolation and poor cognitive performance (β = −1.38, p < 0.001), and higher levels of social isolation resulted in a more pronounced decline in cognition over time (β = 0.17, p < 0.001). Additionally, the path coefficient between the initial level of cognition at baseline and the slope of social isolation was − 0.07 (p < 0.001) and 0.01 (p = 0.021), respectively. For the correlation between slopes, our study found that females’ cognition scores were more susceptible to social isolation (β = − 2.78, p < 0.001). Similarly, regarding cognition scores, the influence of social isolation was greater among people with education below the primary level (β = − 2.89, p = 0.002) or a greater number of chronic diseases (β = − 2.56, p = 0.001). Conclusion Our findings support the bidirectional association between social isolation and cognition. Specifically, higher baseline social isolation and its rate of increase over time contribute to an intensification of cognitive decline at follow-up. Besides, poorer cognitive performance predicted higher social isolation.
... However, there are contradictory studies in this regard. Some authors have found that men have much more cooperative tendencies than women [26][27][28][29], whereas others, such as Fox et al. [30], believe that women are more likely to respond to stressful situations by seeking and providing support. Men, according to Nickels et al. and Bedrov et al. [31,32], are more likely to react egoistically and competitively. ...
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This article explores, quantitatively and qualitatively, how gender-neutral groups of pre-service teachers in homogenous and heterogeneous cooperative learning prioritize individual responsibility, promotive interaction, and positive interdependence. The study took place in the 2022–2023 academic year. The participants in this study were 535 pre-service teachers registered on Kindergarten, Primary, and Secondary Education undergraduate degree courses in the Faculty of Education and Psychology (FEP) at the University of Girona. In the study, the CAC instrument (20 items) was applied along with 11 items that were added. The results indicated that the participants scored higher in all the categories of cooperative learning when they were in homogenous groups than when in heterogeneous ones. Female students scored higher than male or non-binary students in all the cooperative learning categories in both types of cooperative structure. In both settings, female students valued individual responsibility higher, while non-binary individuals valued it lowest. Male students valued individual responsibility higher when working in heterogeneous groups. Most students believed that their role did not change when carrying out cooperative challenges. However, among those who did believe that their role altered, the majority were female. The study shows that while female, non-binary, and male pre-service teachers are equally sociable, they develop social skills differently. Diversity in educational institutions should therefore be taken into account as an influence on tertiary students’ development and success in later life.
... In the case of human beings, social norms are agreed to prevent maladaptive behaviours' such as violence [7][8][9]. Likewise, the formation of groups of human beings is based on trust and emotionality, and these are in the ability to self-regulate, with the lack of cooperation being a limiting factor for the development of social skills and the creation of highly effective groups [10,11]. Regarding group leadership, it is regulated by socio-ecological characteristics and the social and institutional norms of culture, making it possible for both sexes to be competent to lead according to the groups' motivations [12,13]. ...
... That genetic relatedness matters is far from being a new finding (Bowles and Posel, 2005;Danielsbacka et al., 2015;Tanskanen et al., 2016;Wolf et al., 2011), violated only in a very few relationships of any individual (David-Barrett et al., 2015). The importance of lifecourse phases in social behaviour has also been established in the context of social networks (David-Barrett et al., 2016a;Hooper et al., 2015;Kalmijn, 2003). ...
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Mobile call networks have been widely used to investigate communication patterns and the network of interactions of humans at the societal scale. Yet, more detailed analysis is often hindered by having no information about the nature of the relationships, even if some metadata about the individuals are available. Using a unique, large mobile phone database with information about individual surnames in a population in which people inherit two surnames: one from their father, and one from their mother, we are able to differentiate among close kin relationship types. Here we focus on the difference between the most frequently called alters depending on whether they are family relationships or not. We find support in the data for two hypotheses: (1) phone calls between family members are more frequent and last longer than phone calls between non-kin, and (2) the phone call pattern between family members show a higher variation depending on the stage of life-course compared to non-family members. We give an interpretation of these findings within the framework of evolutionary anthropology: kinship matters even when demographic processes, such as low fertility, urbanisation and migration reduce the access to family members. Furthermore, our results provide tools for distinguishing between different kinds of kin relationships from mobile call data, when information about names are unavailable.
... Firstly, in same gender relationships we observe that females tend to have higher ranks in female egocentric networks compared to males in male egocentric networks. This observation is consistent with known qualitative differences in same gender communication 20,39,40 In general, the females tend to have fewer and more close relationships than males as can be seen through the comparison of the ranks in Fig. 1. A number of other gender differences may be noted. ...
... Yalom (1980) attributed the modern context of loneliness to the decline of attachment-supporting institutions (e.g., the extended family, the stable neighborhood, and the church congregation). This societal transformation may have exacerbated loneliness among men to a greater extent, as men tend to prefer group interaction to dyadic interaction ( David-Barrett et al., 2015 ). Moreover, the modern rise in divorce rates and adults living alone may more profoundly affect loneliness among men, whose experience of loneliness is more closely tied to relationship status ( de Jong Gierveld et al., 2018 ;Nowland et al., 2018 ). ...
Background: Although studies have reported a significant inverse association between meaning in life and psychological distress, little is known about this association, specifically among men, or its potential underlying mechanisms. Accordingly, this study investigated prospective pathways connecting meaning in life to men's psychological distress through the serial mediation effects of resilience and loneliness. Methods: In total, 364 male respondents provided demographic data and completed an online survey to assess meaning in life, resilience, loneliness, and psychological distress. Simple and serial mediation models were tested to examine whether resilience and loneliness mediated the association between meaning in life and men's psychological distress, both separately and jointly. Results: Direct and indirect effects of meaning in life on men's psychological distress were found. As predicted, both resilience and loneliness independently mediated the association between meaning in life and men's psychological distress. In addition, serial mediation analysis indicated that resilience and loneliness mediated the association between meaning in life and men's psychological distress via a sequential process. Conclusions: The findings advance knowledge concerning the influence of meaning in life on men's psychological distress and two critical underlying mechanisms in this relationship. Clinical interventions for men that enhance meaning in life may help bolster resilience and reduce loneliness, diminishing psychological distress.
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Introduction. One of the consequences of the increase in the number of social network users has been the inappropriate use of social networks by some of these users. Hate speeches are frequently identified on social media, and these promote certain homophobic and transphobic attitudes, causing psychological consequences on users belonging to minority gender groups. With this work, it is intended to know the current state of the problem raised, to facilitate the activity of new researchers in an emerging field. Methodology. Bibliographic analysis of 203 papers from the Scopus databases for the period between 1997 and 2022 using the VOSViewer software. The search for publications was carried out in February 2023. Results. There is a positive trend in the number of relevant publications since 2017, mainly in 2021 and 2022. The research on homophobia and transphobia on social media in USA is prominent, with a high number of published articles, productive organizations, and influential authors. Twitter is shown to be the social network most widely used to spread homotransphobic hate speech. Environments conducive to the development of homotransphobic attitudes are identified as collective sports, mainly football and its supporters, as well as peer groups. Conclusions It is a growing problem that requires intervention at the societal level, requiring the development of legislation that moves away from heteronormativity, the development of mechanisms for automatic detection of homotransphobic discourse on social networks, and a multidisciplinary analysis and approach to control the problem as well as provide adequate social support to affected groups.
Previous studies have found that loneliness of one person can be judged quite accurately by a close friend or partner. Yet, it is unclear whether there are specific behavioral cues the other-ratings are based on. In the present study, 54 female friendship dyads were videotaped during a guided conversation and behavioral cuesl were coded using the SPAFF coding system. The results indicated that loneliness was negatively associated with one's own and the friend's overall friendship satisfaction and their satisfaction with the interaction. However, with the exception of an inconsistent mediation effect found for sadness, none of the coded behavioral cues were found to mediate the association between loneliness and interaction quality. Nevertheless, the results of the present study may help to understand why it is so difficult to identify people at risk for experiencing loneliness and draws attention to other processes through which loneliness may become visible to others.
Personality factors affect the properties of ‘offline’ social networks, but how they are associated with the structural properties of online networks is still unclear. We investigated how the six HEXACO personality factors (Honesty-Humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience) relate to Facebook use and three objectively measured Facebook network characteristics - network size, density, and number of clusters. Participants ( n = 107, mean age = 20.6, 66% female) extracted their Facebook networks using the GetNet app, completed the 60-item HEXACO questionnaire and the Facebook Usage Questionnaire. Users high in Openness to Experience spent less time on Facebook. Extraversion was positively associated with network size (number of Facebook Friends). These findings suggest that some personality factors are associated with Facebook use and the size of Facebook networks, and that personality is an important influence on both online and offline sociality.
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This paper examines social network size in contemporary Western society based on the exchange of Christmas cards. Maximum network size averaged 153.5 individuals, with a mean network size of 124.9 for those individuals explicitly contacted; these values are remarkably close to the group size of 150 predicted for humans on the basis of the size of their neocortex. Age, household type, and the relationship to the individual influence network structure, although the proportion of kin remained relatively constant at around 21%. Frequency of contact between network members was primarily determined by two classes of variable: passive factors (distance, work colleague, overseas) and active factors (emotional closeness, genetic relatedness). Controlling for the influence of passive factors on contact rates allowed the hierarchical structure of human social groups to be delimited. These findings suggest that there may be cognitive constraints on network size.
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Animal (and human) societies characterized by dominance hierarchies invariably suffer from inequality. The rise of inequality has 3 main prerequisites: 1) a group in which inequality can emerge, 2) the existence of differences in payoff, and 3) a mechanism that initiates, accumulates, and propagates the differences. Hitherto, 2 kinds of models have been used to study the processes involved. In winner–loser models of inequality (typical in zoology), the 3 elements are independent. In division-of-labor models of inequality, the first 2 elements are linked, whereas the third is independent. In this article, we propose a new model, that of synchronized group action, in which all 3 elements are linked. Under these conditions, agent-based simulations of communal action in multilayered communities naturally give rise to endogenous status, emergent social stratification, and the rise of elite cliques. We show that our 3 emergent social phenomena (status, stratification, and elite formation) react to natural variations in merit (the capacity to influence others’ decisions). We also show that the group-level efficiency and inequality consequences of these emergent phenomena define a space for social institutions that optimize efficiency gain in some fitness-related respect, while controlling the loss of efficiency and equality in other respects.
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: Although gratitude is a key prosocial emotion reinforcing reciprocal altruism, it has been largely ignored in the empirical literature. We examined feelings of gratitude and the importance of reciprocity in same-sex peer relations. Participants were 772 individuals (189 males, mean age = 28.80) who filled in an on-line survey using a vignette design. We investigated (i) differences in reported gratitude and importance of reciprocity among same-sex siblings and same-sex friends and (ii) how relationship closeness moderates the associations. Based on the theory of kin altruism we expect that people would feel more grateful towards friends than towards their siblings, and that lack of gratitude or failure to pay back a loan would bother more with friends than with siblings, irrespective of emotional closeness. Results showed that levels of gratitude and expectations of reciprocity were higher towards friends compared to siblings. This was the case also after controlling for emotional closeness. Being close generally made participants feel more grateful and expect lower displays of gratitude in the other. Closeness was also strongly associated with emotional gratitude among siblings compared to friends. We conclude that feelings and displays of gratitude have a special role in friendships. Although a close sibling may elicit as much gratitude as a friend does, even a very close friend is not exempted from the logic of reciprocity in the same way that a sibling is.
Economic inequality is a defining issue of our time, with a handful of individuals in the United States today owning more wealth than half the population in the country. What are the psychological consequences of living in a profoundly unequal society? This comprehensive textbook is among the first to examine poverty, wealth, and economic inequality from a psychological perspective. Written by two leading scholars in the field, it provides an intersectional analysis of the impact of economic inequality on cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, intergroup, physiological, and health outcomes. Students are introduced to the diverse methods used to study poverty, wealth, and economic inequality and the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches, while the text focuses on solutions at the individual, community, and national levels to restore optimism and encourage action. Chapter features include exercises and reflection questions that help students think critically about the implications of research findings for their own lives.
This paper deals with the question of gender and nation-specific differences in friendship patterns. Analysing quantitative and qualitative aspects of friendship in five nations, it becomes apparent that nation-related variations are greater than gender-specific ones. There seems to be a nation-specific rather than a gender-specific idea of how many people can be friends, who could be a friend, and what friends are for.
Friends-they are generous and cooperative with each other in ways that appear to defy standard evolutionary expectations, frequently sacrificing for one another without concern for past behaviors or future consequences. In this fascinating multidisciplinary study, Daniel J. Hruschka synthesizes an array of cross-cultural, experimental, and ethnographic data to understand the broad meaning of friendship, how it develops, how it interfaces with kinship and romantic relationships, and how it differs from place to place. Hruschka argues that friendship is a special form of reciprocal altruism based not on tit-for-tat accounting or forward-looking rationality, but rather on mutual goodwill that is built up along the way in human relationships.