Gender-specific pathways to intimacy in early adolescence

Phame M. Camarena, Pamela A. Sarigiani, Anne C. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


As part of a larger longitudinal study of psychosocial development, 148 girls and 130 boys were administered a series of questions regarding a close friend during their eighth-grade school year. Scales corresponding to shared experience, self-disclosure, and intimacy (defined as emotional closeness) were developed from these items. Path-analytic models tested the relative strength of the self-disclosure and shared experience paths to emotional closeness for boys and girls separately. The results indicated that the self-disclosure path to emotional closeness is significant for both boys and girls. No relationship was found between shared experience and emotional closeness in girls when controlling for self-disclosure. The relationship between shared experience and feelings of closeness was, however, significant for boys even while controlling for the effects of self-disclosure. Covariance structure analysis (LISREL) indicated that the covariance matrices for the three scales were significantly different for boys and girls. The results are considered in relation to the gender socialization and friendship literature. The potential importance of defining intimacy as emotional closeness is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-32
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1990


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