Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The present study was designed to investigate the relationship between individuals' gender-role orientations and the strength and rewardingness of their friendships. The study was guided by a series of questions centered around the assumption that androgynous individuals exhibit greater behavioral flexibility from one situation to another. Androgynous individuals were expected to provide a broader range of interpersonal rewards, forming stronger and more rewarding friendships than gender-typed individuals. In addition, androgynous individuals were expected to respond equally favorably to both same- and cross-gender friends, making gender-role orientation a factor attenuating gender differences in friendship.

A total of 105 women and 101 men used the Acquaintance Description Form to describe both a same-gender and cross-gender friend. Each subject also responded to the Bem Sex-role Inventory for herself or himself and for each of their selected friends.

Comparisons were made among the different gender-role orientations of the subjects, their friends, and the Acquaintance Description Form variables.

Overall, both genders indicated stronger and more rewarding friendships with same- than with cross-gender friends. The results indicated that the gender-role orientation of the subjects was not a factor in the quality of either same- or cross-gender friendships. For women, the perceived gender-role orientation of the friend was significantly related to the quality of the friendship. Women perceived androgynous friends of either gender as providing the most rewarding friendships, and undifferentiated friends of either gender as providing the least rewarding friendships.

In addition to indicating that both women and men find their stronger friendships with same-gender friends, the results showed that women, but not men, considered androgynous friends of either gender to be more rewarding. Therefore, rather than attenuating gender differences in friendship, gender-role orientation was another variable on which women's and men's friendships differed. This suggests that women are responsive to a broader range of possibilities within friendship. Contrary to the widely accepted characterization of men's friendships as agentic, but not communal, and women's friendships as communal, but not agentic, this study suggests that women's friendships are both communal and agentic.