Date of Award:

12-2010

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Educational Specialist (EdS)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Renee V. Galliher

Abstract

Scholars historically have separated friendships and romantic relationships into two qualitatively distinct relationship categories. Contemporary research examining passionate friendships, however, has identified qualities within platonic relationships that appear to mimic characteristics typically associated with romantic relationships. Primary critiques of the existing passionate friendship literature include exclusively examining females, including samples that predominately identified as lesbian, bisexual or questioning, and research utilizing solely qualitative designs.

The current study used a quantitative design to investigate 375 emerging adults' (18-26 years of age; 149 males, 226 females) friendship experiences. Specifically, four quasi-independent variables (i.e., biological sex, sexual orientation, gender-role orientation, and cross vs. same-sex dyads) were examined as factors associated with passionate friendship. Findings from this study indicated that both males and females experience passionate friendship, and that these experiences are not specific to individuals who identify as non-heterosexual. Additionally, results from this study shed light on the occurrence of passionate friendship experiences observed in both cross- and same-sex dyads.

Characteristics of passionate friendships (e.g., levels of attachment, thought preoccupation, intensity of the relationship) were also examined using a newly created measure. Female participants and individuals whose closest friend was described a cross-sex friend scored higher on nearly every continuous scale of the designed measure. Additionally, sexual orientation and gender-role orientation yielded significant results on several of the identified subscales, with sexual-minority individuals and those who claimed androgynous or masculine gender-role orientation obtaining higher scores. Finally, predictability of passionate friendship occurrence was evaluated and indicated that passionate friendships may be predicted based on existing demographics or personality characteristics of an individual.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on November 1, 2010.

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