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Inequity in Empathic Support Between Cross-Sex Friends
Perception or Reality?
The purpose of this research is to explore the empathic inequity reported by women in their close, cross-sex relationships.How do the perceptions of cross-sex friendships and relational exclusivity influence the under benefitted/over benefitted dichotomy expressed between the sexes when communicating support?RESEARCH PURPOSE
What is gender based “empathic inequity?”
Xu & Burleson (2001)Among married couples, it is known as “the support gap.”A situation in which husbands report receiving more support and helpful support from their wives than wives report receiving from their husbands.LIT REVIEW
Perception or reality?
Messman, Canary &Hause(2000)Research indicates that there are no gender differences in seeking or providing support.That’s the reality.However, some researchers and lay persons cling to the heuristic that men and women do support communication differently because men and women are different.That’s the perception.LIT REVIEW
Where mightthe perceptioncome from?
Afifi& Faulkner (2000)Expecting (and being willing to provide) different communication in specific relational contextsPursuing different individual and relationship goals related to those specific relational contextsLIT REVIEW
Let’s define some terms
Guerrero & Chavez (2005)Specific relationship contextsmeanshow you think about friendship(strictly platonic, potential for romance, “friends with benefits”)Different communicationrefers thecommunicationbehaviors used to maintaina friendship(emotional support and positivity and instrumental support)DEFINE TERMS
Pursuing Relationship Goals
Rawlins (1993)For women—enjoying “nice guy” companionshipFor men—exploring the potential for sexual/romantic involvementDEFINE TERMS
Balance Individual Goals
O’Meara (1989)Emotional bond challenge—high social investment with no/low sexual involvementSexual challenge—high/moderate sexual involvement with no/low emotional investmentDEFINE TERMS
Social Exchange Theory
What behavior yields benefits?EXPLAIN THEORY
Research Design
Social exchange approach—what accounts for continuing to provide support?The influence of relationship goals (companionship vs. romantic) on providing emotional or instrumental supportThe influence of individual goals (emotional vs. sexual) on providing emotional or instrumental supportEXPLAIN THEORY
This research seeks to add to the body of knowledge supporting theperceptionthat men and women communicate support differently in their cross-sex friendships.
Research Questions
What motivates men not to offer empathic support in a strictly platonic cross-sex friendship?What motivates women to continue providing empathic support in a strictly platonic cross-sex friendship?
Afifi, W. A. & Faulkner, S. L. (2000). On being ‘just friends’: The frequency and impact of sexual activity in cross-sex friendships.Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17(2), 205-222.Guerrero, L. K. & Chavez, A. M. (2005). Relational maintenance in cross-sex friendships characterized by different types of romantic intent: An exploratory study.Western Journal of Communication, 69(4), 339-358.Xu, Y. & Burleson, B. R. (2001).Effects of Sex, Culture, and Support Type on Perceptions of Spousal Social Support: An Assessment of the “Support Gap” Hypothesis in Early Marriage.Human Communication Research, 27(4), 535-566.
Messman, S. J., Canary, D. J. &Hause, K. S. (2000). Motives to remain platonic, equity, and the use of maintenance strategies in opposite-sex friendships.Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17(1), 67-94.O’Meara, J. D. (1989). Cross-sex friendship: Four basic challenges of an ignored relationship.Sex Roles, 21(7/8), 525-543.Rawlins, W. K. (1993). Communication in cross-sex friendships. In L. P.Arlissand D. J.BorisoffWomen & men communicating: Challenges and changes,(pp. 51-70) Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.





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