In this process, the principles of Grounded Theory Analysis were utilized. Primary coding categories were used in the analysis of the interview transcripts, as well as the identification of a range of significant themes. These were then organized into a formal codebook. The coding of the transcripts also led to new themes and modifications were made to the findings on this basis, where it was deemed to be appropriate.
What kind of statistical analysis was used?
Chi-square analyses were used to examine differences and deviances in the reason why men feel emotionally close to women vs. men.
Was the hypotheses supported?
One of the main aims of the study was to determine and evaluate the adequacy of men's relationship in terms of fulfilling emotional needs. There were a number of central concerns that were investigated through the interviews. These were; whether men share emotionally closer relationships with women or men; differences in the reasons that men feel emotionally closer to women or men; as well as relational and demographic influences on men's close emotional relationships.
Central to the study was the hypothesis of gender differences in relationship issues between men and women. One of the central findings was that the reason why many men felt emotionally closer to women than other men, was the ability that these relationships provided for men to disclose their feelings to women. The men surveyed also found that there was greater emotional comfort in discussing problems with women than with other men. Sexual intimacy was also a positive factor that was noted in this regard.
However, it was also found that men were able to relax and identify with other men. This provides a different form of emotional closeness. An important finding of the study is that "...adherence to traditional gender-role stereotypes mediates men's experiences with emotional closeness and intimacy in their relationships with women and men" (Wagner-Raphael et al.).
The last point mentioned above is an important aspect of this study. It points out that relationships between men and between men and women are often affected and even determined by the gender stereotypes that each individual adheres to. This is particularly the case with men and their relationships with women.
Men are socialized to avoid displaying feminine characteristics, including the expression of openness and vulnerability... Pollack (1999) described these rigid gender-role norms as "gender straitjackets," which lead men to repress their desire for intimacy and to hide behind "an emotional mask of masculine bravado or invulnerability."
Wagner-Raphael et al.)
What conclusions were drawn?
The findings were relatively inconsistent. The authors of the study attribute this inconsistency to factors such as the complex relationship between self-disclosure, gender, situational factors, and personality characteristics. A significant finding however was that," "Emotional closeness and self-disclosure are important constructs to examine because of their saliency in normal social interactions, their importance to the development of interpersonal relationships, and the impact of these variables on psychological health and adjustment" (Wagner-Raphael et al.). Therefore, psychological health and self-disclosure are seen to be linked in this study to the concept of good interpersonal relationships.
Another important finding of the study was that, despite the prevalence of male stereotyping, there was a perceived change in the attitude of men towards evaluative self-disclosure with women. Many men reported that they were able to engage in more emotionally expressive relationships with women. This is ascribed to "...the impact of recent changes in gender roles on intimate cross-sex relationships in that the men examined in the present study were more likely to exhibit a combination of masculine and feminine traits" (Wagner-Raphael et al.).
The above research and analyses has served to expand my understanding and knowledge of modern relationships in a number of ways. The differences and the similarities between friendship and love is an important part of this understanding. What is possibly more significant is the role that communication and interaction plays in different types of relationships.
The importance of self-disclosure was also a theoretical aspect that was enlightening. Self-disclosure is a difficult process as it involves making oneself vulnerable to the other person in the relationship. However, as the above study shows, without the risk of vulnerability there can be little progression and development in any deep relationship.
Coupled with these insights is the significance of social exchange theory. This showed the importance of reciprocal sharing and balance in relationships. Another aspect that the resrch study discussed above made clear was the different attitudes towards relationships in term of gender perceptions. What was extremely interesting was the way in which relationships are often determined and shaped by cultural and social stereotypes and that fact that many of these social stereotypes are altering with the changing nature of modern male-female relationships today.
Possibly the most important aspect that the above study brought to light was the fact that human relationships, whether they be on the level of friendship or love, are important if not essential for the psychological well-being and positive development of every human being.
ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA: definition of loyalty. October 18, 2007. http://www.worldfreeinternet.net/archive/arc3.htm
Love: the crucial issue in psychotherapy. October 18, 2007. http://web.clas.ufl.edu/ipsa/journal/2001_casonato01.shtml
Social Exchange Theory. October 18, 2007. http://psychology.about.com/od/sindex/g/socialexchange.htm
Self-Disclosure. October 18, 2007. http://www.abacon.com/commstudies/interpersonal/indisclosure.html