Female subjects who differed in masculinity and in femininity self-disclosed to a same-sex confederate in contexts that made either social/expressive motives or instrumental motives particularly salient. The confederate spoke first on each of four disclosure topics, presenting either intimate or nonintimate information in her disclosures. The results were consistent with our primary assertion that measures of sex role identity would accurately forecast contextual variations in female self-disclosure. Specifically, femininity tended to promote self-disclosure in social/expressive contexts while clearly inhibiting such exchanges in the instrumental context. Supplementary data revealed that the tendency of highly feminine participants to “close up” in the instrumental context stemmed not from problems in their contemporaneous interpersonal relationships with their partners, but rather from a concern that disclosing too much might adversely affect their partners' evaluation of their competencies. Although masculinity did not exert direct effects of female self-disclosure within any particular context, it did have an influence, for subjects high in femininity were highly self-revealing across contexts if they were also high in masculinity (i.e., androgynous).
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Archer, R. L. (1979). Role of personality and the social situation. In G. J. Chelune (Ed.), Self-disclosure: Origins, patterns, and implications of openness in interpersonal relationships. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bem, S. L. (1977). On the utility of alternative procedures for assessing psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 45, 196–205.
Bender, V. L., Davin, Y., Glover, O., & Stapp, J. (1976). Patterns of self-disclosure in homosexual and heterosexual college students. Sex Roles, 2, 149–160.
Chelune, G. J. (1976). Reactions to male and female disclosure at two levels. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 1000–1003.
Cohn, N. B., & Strassberg, D. S. (1983). Self-disclosure reciprocity among preadolescents. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 9, 97–102.
Cozby, P. C. (1973). Self-disclosure: A literature review. Psychological Bulletin, 79, 73–91.
Cunningham, J. D. (1981). Self-disclosure intimacy: Sex, sex of target cross-national, and “generational” differences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 7, 314–319.
Davidson, L. R., & Duberman, L. (1982). Friendship: Communication and interactional patterns in same-sex dyads. Sex Roles, 8, 809–822.
Davis, J. D. (1978). When boy meets girl: Sex roles and the negotiation of intimacy in an acquaintance exercise. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 684–692.
Davis, J. D., & Sloan, M. L. (1974). The basis of interviewee matching of interviewer self-disclosure. British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 13, 359–367.
Derlega, V. J., & Chaikin, A. L. (1976). Norms affecting self-disclosure in men and women. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 44, 376–380.
Derlega, V. J., Winstead, B. A., Wong, P. T. P., & Hunter, S. (1985). Gender effects in an initial encounter: A case where men exceed women in disclosure. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 2, 25–44.
Hill, C. T. (1981). Unpublished data, University of Washington.
Hill, C. T., & Stull, D. E. (1987). Gender and self-disclosure. In V. J. Derlega & J. H. Berg (Eds.), Self-disclosure: Theory, research, and therapy, New York: Plenum.
Jourard, S. M., & Jaffe, P. E. (1970). Influence of an interviewer's disclosure on the self-disclosing behavior of interviewees. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 17, 252–257.
Kleinke, C. L., & Kahn, M. L. (1980). Perceptions of self-disclosers: Effects of sex and physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality, 48, 190–205.
Lenney, E. (1977). Women's self-confidence in achievement settings. Psychological Bulletin, 84, 1–13.
Lenney, E., & Gold, J. (1982). Sex differences in self-confidence: The effects of task completion and of comparison to competent others. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 8, 72–81.
Shaffer, D. R., & Ogden, J. K. (1986). On sex differences in self-disclosure during the acquaintance process: The role of anticipated future interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 92–101.
Shaffer, D. R., Smith, J. E., & Tomarelli, M. (1982). Self-monitoring as a determinant of self-disclosure reciprocity during the acquaintance process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 163–175.
Spence, J. T., & Helmreich, R. M. (1978). Masculinity and femininity: Their psychological dimensions, correlates, and antecedents. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Taylor, D. A., & Altman, I. (1975). Self-disclosure as a function of reward-cost outcomes. Sociometry, 38, 18–31.
This research was supported by National Institute of Mental health Grant MH 43726-01 to David R. Shaffer.
About this article
Cite this article
Shaffer, D.R., Pegalis, L. & Cornell, D.P. Interactive effects of social context and sex role identity on female self-disclosure during the acquaintance process. Sex Roles 24, 1–19 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00288699
- Direct Effect
- Interactive Effect
- Social Psychology
- Social Context
- Supplementary Data