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Previous research has examined gender and grade differences in the emotional closeness of adolescents' same- and cross-sex friendships. However, findings from these studies have been inconsistent because they have failed to differentiate between cross-sex friendships and romantic relationships and compare same- and cross-sex friendships. In an attempt to clarify previous findings, gender and grade differences in adolescent reports of emotional closeness within same- and cross-sex friendships were examined. Responses from two hundred seventy adolescents indicated gender differences in reports of time spent with their friends daily and levels of relationship closeness, cohesion, and commitment. Further, grade moderated relationship differences in reports of relationship cohesion and closeness. Differences in predictors of intimacy support previous studies that have found grade and gender differences in levels of intimacy in adolescents' same- and cross-sex friendships. Results also elaborate on previous research by indicating grade differences in adolescents' perceptions of cohesion and closeness in their same- and cross-sex friendships. Findings are discussed in terms of understanding differences in adolescent reports of intimacy within same- and cross-sex friendships.
From early to late adolescence, intimacy increases in importance within adolescent friendships (Berndt, 1982; Collins & Repinski, 1994; Hunter & Youniss, 1982; Rubin, Bukowski, & Parker, 1998; Shulman, Levy-Shift, Kedem, & Alon, 1997). According to Sullivan (1953), male and female adolescents develop friendships to meet their intimacy needs (e.g., mutual empathy, love, and security), and achieving intimacy within same- and cross-sex relationships outside of the family environment is an integral aspect of adolescent development. Research indicates that same- and cross-sex friendships become more intimate as adolescents age. Further, studies examining gender differences in adolescent reports of intimacy indicate that females ( 1) develop more intimate friendships, ( 2) stress the importance of maintaining intimacy, and ( 3) expect more intimacy in their friendships than do males (Clark & Ayers, 1993; Clark & Bittle, 1992; Foot, Chapman, & Smith, 1977). Despite these age and gender differences in adolescent reports of friendship intimacy, relatively few studies have compared grade and gender differences in intimacy in same- and cross-sex friendships.
Relationship Differences in Adolescent Reports of Intimacy
Grade and Gender Differences in Adolescent Reports of Intimacy
Cross-sex friends. Grade differences in adolescent reports of intimacy indicate that cross-sex friends become more intimate with age (Buhrmester & Furman, 1987; Fischer, Munsch, & Greene, 1996). Research examining gender differences in intimacy indicates that cross-sex friendships are more important to female adolescents than to male adolescents (Blyth, Hill, & Thiel, 1982). Further, findings from Bukowski and Kramer (1986) and Sharabany et al. (1981) indicate that adolescent females experience higher levels of intimacy and emotional closeness in their cross-sex friendships than do adolescent males.
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