The Role of Communication in Same-Sex Friendships: A Comparison among African Americans, Asian Americans, and European Americans

Wendy Samter, Bryant University
Brant R. Burleson, Purdue University

Document Type Article

Published in Communication Quarterly, volume 53 issue 3, 2005. Bryant users may access this article here.


This study explored whether affectively oriented forms of communication are accorded the same significance in the friendships of Asian and African Americans as they are in the friendships of European Americans. Participants (72 Asian American men and women; 50 African American men and women; and 55 European American men and women) indicated the importance of affectively versus instrumentally oriented communication skills using a revised version of the authors' Communication Functions Questionnaire. Results indicated a complex, pattern of differences due to ethnicity, sex, and type of communication skill. In particular, European American women viewed the affectively oriented skills of their same-sex friends as more important than did African American women. These and related findings are discussed in terms of the role communication plays in friendships, and how this role is moderated by ethnicity and sex.