Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Joseph C. LaVoie
James M. Thomas
Adolescents in grades 8, 10, 12, and college (13-22 year olds) completed the Relationship Closeness Inventory (RCI) (Berscheid, Snyder, & Omoto, 1989), a written relationship development narrative, and a graph of major relationship events for a designated friend in a same-sex and cross-sex relationship. Data collection was done in separate sessions for each relationship type, with order of com pletion randomly assigned.
Age and relationship differences were found for total score on the Relationship Closeness Inventory (RCI), indicating that closeness in same-sex relationships increases gradually with age, whereas closeness in cross-sex relationships does not increase until later adolescence. When asked to describe a same-sex and cross-sex relationship, students in grade 8 (13-14 year-olds) used instrumental term s (e.g., shared activities, physical features of the other). However, with an increase in age, descriptions become more expressive (e.g., self-disclosure, shared feelings, em otional closeness). This transition occurs between grade 12 and the college years (19-22 year-olds) for males and between grades 10 and 12 for females. A similar developmental pattern emerges when adolescents are asked to place significant relationship events on a timeline and indicate their involvement level for each event. Contrary to expectations, cross-sex involvement level increased faster with age than same-sex involvement level, suggesting that perception of relationship involvement may not necessarily be related to one's description of the relationship. That is, involvement level may be independent of how one views the relationship. Relationship status (i.e. close friendship, casual friendship, nonexclusive dating, exclusive dating) plays a limited role in the adolescent friendship, with more exclusive relationships being more affective.
Overall, when self-reporting on same-sex and cross-sex relationships, younger males are more concrete and report their relationships as less involved than older males and females. Older males become less concrete and report increased involvement, but gender differences still exist.
Ringle, Jay L., "Relationship History and Friendship Development in Adolescence" (1997). Student Work. 303.