Sex Roles

, Volume 37, Issue 11–12, pp 825–845 | Cite as

A balance theory explanation of challenges confronting cross-sex friendships

  • Michael Monsour
  • Vickie Harvey
  • Sam Betty


This study was part of an ongoing investigation into four of the potential challenges confronting women and men in cross-sex fiendships (O’Meara, 1989). Unlike previous research, which explored the perspective of only one member of each cross-sex fnendship, this study examined the perspectives of both individuals in cross-sex fienhhips. The levels of actual and perceived agreement and understanding were investigated through utilization of a variation of Heiderian Balance Theory and Laing’s Interpersonal Perception Method. Seventy three pairs of cross-sex fiends completed a survey examining direct perspectives, metaperspectives, and meta-metaperspectives, on the four challenges. Over 92% of the participants were heterosexual, 68% were Caucasian, 10% were Afican American, 10% were Hispanic, 3% were Asian, 4% were Native American, and 5% indicated “other.” Results indicate that cross-sex fiends generally agree that O’Meara’s four challenges present only minimal problems in their individual relationships, and that balance theory provides a viable explanation of how perceived agreement and understanding concerning challenges are arrived at within cross-sex fnendships. Additionally, results illustrating disagreements and misunderstandings within cross-sex friendships highlight the importance of looking at the perspectives of both individuals within a dyad.


Balance Theory Actual Agreement Actual Understanding Equality Challenge Interpersonal Perception 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Monsour
    • 1
  • Vickie Harvey
    • 2
  • Sam Betty
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Colorado at Denver, P.O. Box 173364Department of CommunicationsDenver
  2. 2.John Carroll UniversityDenver
  3. 3.University of Colorado at DenverDenver

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