Selected Variables Related To Friendship Between Women

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology


Purpose. Friendship offers resources vital to psychological health. Studies document how the lack of friendship networks often results in loneliness, depression and psychosomatic illness; yet, as a subject of research, friendship has been relatively overlooked.This study contributes information about women's friendship patterns, builds upon the social exchange model of relationship development and identifies variables that account for qualitative within-sex differences.The purpose of this research was to investigate how sex-role orientation, role similarity, attitudes toward women, actual and perceived attitude similarity, accuracy of attitude attribution and self-actualization relate to the level of intimate friendship between women.Method. Fifty college female friendship pairs completed a Biographical and Friendship Information Questionnaire, an Intimacy Scale, the Bem Sex Role Inventory, the Attitudes Toward Women Scale-Short Form, the Attitudes Toward Women Scale-Short Form with a change of instructions to complete the form "as you think your friend would," and the Personal Orientation Inventory. On the basis of extreme scores on the Intimacy Scale, 25 pairs each were selected for the High and Low Discloser groups. Group differences were examined through chi square and discriminant function analyses.Results. Self-actualization, perceived attitude similarity, accuracy of attitude attribution and role similarity are significant to intimate friendship. Knowing a friend for a long time and spending time together weekly are also factors. Finally childhood friendship experiences appear to play a role in adult friendships.Conclusions. Results suggest that intimate friendship between women is associated with positive mental health; therefore, clinicians working with female clients should assess past and present friendships comprehensively.The study provides information to be incorporated into the social exchange model of relationship development and supports the contention that friendship is qualitatively different among women. It appears that in order to develop and maintain an intimate friendship, two women need to be relatively healthy individuals who are able to extensively and honestly self-disclose and who perceive one another as sharing similar attitudes.


Psychology, General

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