The Meaning of Friendship Across the Life-span: Two Studies

Brian R. Patterson, Lorraine Bettini, Jon F. Nussbaum

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39 Scopus citations


Details of two studies aimed at the initial exploration of friendship among the elderly and across the life-span are reported in this article. In Study One, twenty elderly subjects were interviewed to determine the way in which they conceptualize friendship. The interview data were reduced through analytic induction and cluster analysis. Results produced nine (9) definitional clusters consisting of: (1.) Devotion; (2.) Commonality; (3.) Reciprocity; (4.) Relational Stratification; (5.) Frequent Contact; (6.) Positive Attributions; (7.) Positive Impact; (8.) Understanding; and (9.) Familial Comparison. Based on the results obtained in the first study, the second study developed and piloted an interval level instrument for the assessment of friendship intimacy. The General Inventory of Friendship Intimacy (GIFI) was factor analyzed and found to have two dimensions. The factors were labeled: (1.) Reciprocation, and (2.) Absent Dysfunction. The second study also compared elderly responses to the GIFI scale with those of a younger sample. Results showed that the younger population produced a unidimensional solution. The implications of the findings are discussed as well as directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-160
Number of pages16
JournalCommunication Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication


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