We investigated young adults’ experiences with competition in same-gender friendships. Participants were 494 heterosexual undergraduates (M = 19 years; 76% female) from a variety of self-identified ethnic backgrounds who were attending a California, U.S. public university. They completed an online survey about their relationship with their closest same-gender friend. Measures included evaluations of friendship quality as well as perceptions of friendship competition in four domains: peer relations (shared friendships), romance, academics, and sports. Also, individuals rated their level of distress and likely use of proactive (confronting, seeking social support) and passive (distancing) coping in relation to each domain of friendship competition. On average, men reported more friendship competition in all domains than did women. Women were more likely than men to report distress regarding competition in the peer and academic domains; also women were more likely than men to endorse proactive coping across all domains. Thus, average gender differences were found in responses to competition and coping in friendships. At the same time, SEM analyses revealed proactive coping mediated the associations between distress over competition and friendship closeness in parallel ways for women and men in each domain.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 8, 2016
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