Male friendships : the effect of social structure on same-sex friendships
Herron, Amy Charters
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Much of the research on friendship has compared the friendships of men and women, concluding that male friendships are inferior to female friendships because they are behavior oriented and lack emotional intimacy. The goal of this study was twofold. First, it measured the quality of male friendships using a within gender design rather than a between gender design. Second, two different environments were chosen to measure the effect of social structure on male same-sex friendships. The objectives of this study were accomplished by comparing men's same-sex friendships in two different environments: a coeducational college and a same-sex college. The study used the Acquaintance Description Form, a survey designed to measure three key elements of friendship: friendship strength, interpersonal rewards of friendship, and maintenance difficulty. It was hypothesized that men who attended a same-sex college would score higher than men who attended a coeducational college in the areas of friendship strength and interpersonal rewards and lower in the area of maintenance difficulty. It was also hypothesized that men who attended a same-sex college would report a man as their closest friend more often than men who attended a coeducational college. The study found no significant differences between the men at the two colleges according to their scores on the Acquaintance Description Form. In addition, there was no significant difference between the men at the two colleges according to the gender of their closest friend. It was argued that the study's insignificant findings were the result of using a fraternity sample, thus rendering the same-sex environment inconsequential. Separate analyses of the junior and senior respondents revealed stronger and more rewarding friendships coupled by lower degrees of difficulty among the junior subsample. These findings were concluded to represent a developmental difference between the junior and senior subsamples. While this study provided a within gender perspective on male same-sex friendships, it was concluded that the results of this study indicate a need for a more valid measure of male same-sex friendships.