Intimacy and structure: Sex differences in imagery of same-sex relationships

Elizabeth Mazur, Rose R. Olver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Thirty-three female and 42 male undergraduates wrote stories in response to verbal Thematic Apperception Test cues of characters of the subject's sex in structured and unstructured situations. Significantly more men than women wrote stories with negative and defused imagery to the unstructured situation cue. In addition, men wrote stories with significantly more negative and defused imagery to the unstructured cue than to the structured cue. Women showed no significant difference in the frequency of negative and defused imagery to unstructured and structured cues. A detailed content analysis, however, indicated that for women structure decreases intimate contact and inhibits satisfying relationships of support and reciprocity. Results suggest that males, perceiving same-sex relationships as dangerous, feel threatened by intimacy, and thus need to impose structure onto interpersonal situations in order to defuse the intimacy: by using rules, roles, and the addition of others, boundaries may be established between people. Women, comfortable with same-sex intimacy, perceive structured situations as hindering the development of satisfying relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-558
Number of pages20
JournalSex Roles
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Jun 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Intimacy and structure: Sex differences in imagery of same-sex relationships'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this