Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Joseph LaVoie

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Wikoff

Third Advisor

Dr. Gregory Simpson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. William Callahan


Trust as experienced in childhood and adolescent bestfriend and other friend dyads was examined with respect to age differences, sex differences, and differences inperspective taking. A sample of 109 students in grade levels 4 (9-10 years; N =27), 6 (11-12 years; N = 29), 8 (13-14years; N = 25), and 10 (15-16 years; N = 28), were selected to provide for a cross-section of school age youth. Age and gender differences for trust in regard to the dyadic relationships were investigated using a modified version of Sharabany's Intimacy Scale, and a modified version of the Prisoner's Dilemma Game; the latter being a measure developed by the principal investigator. In addition to these two measures, approximately 55% of the subjects were rated for level of perspective taking by using a modified version of Selman's Friendship Domain Interview. This measure allowed the youths to answer open ended questions and probes about trust in a friendship. The findings in this study are the product of data generated from three trust measures. Some ubiquitous findings did emerge from the statistical analyses, suggesting that significant differences among the factors were dependent on the type of task/measure, and the nature of the relationship being addressed. An effect for age was not significant with the SISm measure, but was significant for the PD and Issue-Concept measures. However, interpretations of these results were not consistent, and were reflective of the measure employed. Significant gender differences were observed in the modified Sharabany Intimacy Scale, with females making more trusting descriptive choices than males. In the Prisoner's Dilemma, gender differences were embedded in the effect for grade. Gender differences were not present in the issue-concept scores from the interviews, an effect which supports previous research (Brion-Meisels, 1977; Enright, 1977; Selman, 1980). Finally, with respect to friend, significant differences were noted in the SISm and PDmeasures with trust ratings for best friend being higher than those for other friend.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Eileen Molzen December, 1990.