How Girls and Boys Expect Disclosure About Problems Will Make Them Feel: Implications for Friendships


  • This research was supported by a University of Illinois Graduate College Thesis Grant (Study 1), a University of Missouri Research Council Grant (Study 2), a University of Missouri Research Board Grant and NIMH Grant R03 MH 63753-01 (Study 3), and NIMH Grant R01 MH 073590 (Study 4) awarded to Amanda J. Rose. We also appreciate Christopher Robert suggesting that we include in our measure the item assessing expecting to feel like talking about problems is a waste of time.

concerning this article should be addressed to Amanda J. Rose, 210 McAlester Hall, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211. Electronic mail may be sent to


Although girls disclose to friends about problems more than boys, little is known about processes underlying this sex difference. Four studies (Ns = 526, 567, 769, 154) tested whether middle childhood to mid-adolescent girls and boys (ranging from 8 to 17 years old) differ in how they expect that talking about problems would make them feel. Girls endorsed positive expectations (e.g., expecting to feel cared for, understood) more strongly than boys. Despite common perceptions, boys did not endorse negative expectations such as feeling embarrassed or worried about being made fun of more than girls. Instead, boys were more likely than girls to expect to feel “weird” and like they were wasting time. Sex differences in outcome expectations did help to account for girls’ greater disclosure to friends.