The results suggest large gender differences in how men and women experience opposite-sex friendships.
Men were much more attracted to their female friends than vice versa.
These results suggest that men, relative to women, have a particularly hard time being “just friends.” What makes these results particularly interesting is that they were found within friendships (remember, each participant was only asked about the specific, platonic, friend with whom they entered the lab).
This is not just a bit of confirmation for stereotypes about sex-hungry males and naïve females; it is direct proof that two people can experience the exact same relationship in radically different ways.
He can be reached at garethideas AT or Twitter @garethideas. Ward is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University.
Both men and women were equally attracted to romantically involved opposite-sex friends and those who were single; “hot” friends were hot and “not” friends were not, regardless of their relationship status.
Although women seem to be genuine in their belief that opposite-sex friendships are platonic, men seem unable to turn off their desire for something more. But if we all thought like men, we’d probably be facing a serious overpopulation crisis.
And even though both genders agree overall that attraction between platonic friends is more negative than positive, males are less likely than females to hold this view. Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology?
In order to investigate the viability of truly platonic opposite-sex friendships—a topic that has been explored more on the silver screen than in the science lab—researchers brought 88 pairs of undergraduate opposite-sex friends into…a science lab.
Privacy was paramount—for example, imagine the fallout if two friends learned that one—and only one—had unspoken romantic feelings for the other throughout their relationship.
However, men and women differed in the extent to which they saw attached friends as potential romantic partners.