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Friendship Networks in Developing Relationships: Converging and Diverging Social Environments

Robert M. Milardo
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 45, No. 3 (Sep., 1982), pp. 162-172
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033649
Page Count: 11
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Friendship Networks in Developing Relationships: Converging and Diverging Social Environments
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Abstract

Changes in the structure of friendship networks are thought to complement change in a couple's level of involvement in a close relationship. As a pair become close, their network of mutual friends should increase in size, and with declining involvement a concurrent reduction in the number of mutual friends should occur. A measure of network overlap was derived from daily reports of social activity provided by participants. The hypothesized variations of stage and overlap are consistently supported in both cross-sectional and logitudinal tests. Network overlap covaries with stage of relationship, and this covariation cannot be accounted for by a couple's familiarity or length of dating. Underlying variations in overlap are compositional changes in the stability of the network membership, involving either the reclassification of friends or actual changes in network membership. The findings are discussed in terms of the importance of considering the social context of developing relationships, since that context can serve both facilitative and disruptive functions.

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