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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sex-role orientation and sex stereotyping influences on same- and cross-sex friendships Conrad, Linda Muriel


This study was designed to investigate the influence of two individual difference variables--sex-role orientation and level of sex stereotyping—on the quality of people's own same- and opposite-sex friendships, and their attitudes toward same- and opposite-sex friendships in general. It was predicted that androgynous individuals would experience the highest quality in their friendships, followed by the sex-typed and undifferentiated. Level of stereotyping was predicted to influence both the quality of peoples' friendships, and their evaluations of the concepts same- and opposite-sex friendships. High-sex stereotyped persons were expected to have lower quality friendships and have less favorable attitudes toward cross-sex friendships compared with the low stereotyped. One hundred and one adults (62 females, 39 males) sampled from the City of Vancouver completed a series of questions designed to tap the quality of their same-and cross-sex friendships, and their attitudes toward sairie-and cross-sex friendships. The Bern Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI, Bern, 1974) was used to measure sex typing (androgynous, sex-typed, undifferentiated) and an instrument developed by the author was used to test level of sex stereotyping. As predicted, androgyny was related to better quality friendships. Androgynous individuals had significantly higher quality scores than either sex-typed or undifferentiated persons. Quality scores were not significantly different for sex-typed individuals compared with undifferentiated. These findings were interpreted in terms of the greater behavioral flexibility associated with androgyny. Although not predicted, sex typing was also a significant factor in evaluations of friendships and attitudes toward cross-sex friendships specifically. Androgynous individuals gave significantly higher evaluations to friendships and were more accepting of cross-sex friendships than persons in the other two sex-role orientation groups. In light of this finding a modification was made to the original theoretical framework to account for sex typing effects on evaluations of friendships. None of the predictions for level of sex stereotyping influences on quality and evaluation of friendships was supported. Psychometric problems with the measures used in the present study may have contributed to these non-significant findings. Other findings showed same-sex friendships received significantly higher quality ratings than cross-sex and same-sex friendships received more positive evaluations compared with opposite-sex friendships, although these latter findings were non-significant.

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