Communication in Close Male-Male Friendships in a College Setting

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Communication | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Karyl Daughters, Communication


The literature examining gender and close friendships is somewhat inconclusive. Early literature argued that men’s friendships were superior to women’s friendships while more recent research claims that men are simply incapable of forming close, intimate friendships with the same adeptness as women. Disputing these claims, many all-male colleges and universities argue that the all-male environment provides a communication climate that is more conducive to the formation of close male-male friendships. While there is a wealth of research showing the benefits of single-sex institutions for women, very little research has examined the effects of a single-sex environment on men’s relationships and other men’s issues. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the communication climate created by a single-sex college/university and its ability to influence, either positively or negatively, the development of close male-male friendships. Using Berscheid, Snyder, & Omoto’s (1989) Relationship Closeness Inventory and Jourard’s (1971) Sixty-Item Self-Disclosure scale, the present study revealed no correlation between university sex-composition and friendship intimacy. There were no considerable differences in total self-disclosure, total influence or total time spent with friend. Although the study revealed a few marginal differences regarding specific self disclosures (e.g., self-disclosure about one’s body), the amount of variance accounted for by the differing variables was nominal and hence of little practical importance.