Boyfriend, girlfriend in a traditional society: Parenting styles and development of intimate friendships among Arabs in school

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The development of intimate same- and other-sex friendships in Arab children and adolescents in Israel was investigated in relation to their perceived parenting styles. It was hypothesized that girls would show higher levels of intimacy than boys, and that cross-sex intimacy in both groups would increase with age, whereas same-sex intimate friendship maintains rather stable over the school years. We hypothesized further that intimate friendship would be contingent more readily on perceived parental authoritative style rather than on either permissive or authoritarian styles. Participants were 723 Arab students drawn from four schools, and from the 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th grades. The Parental Authority Questionnaire and Intimate Friendship Scale were employed as measures. Findings indicated that girls were more intimate with their female friends than boys were with their male friends, especially in the higher grades, replicating previous studies. However, boys tended to score higher than girls on intimacy with the other gender. Girls equaled their level of intimacy only at the 11th grade. These findings suggest that traditional societies may foster specific characteristics of intimate friendship. A novel finding is the central role of the authoritative parenting style in determining intimate friendships. Results are discussed in terms of universal aspects of friendship and of their expression in the investigated cultural setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-75
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Arab
  • Childhood adolescence
  • Culture
  • Friendship
  • Intimacy
  • Parenting
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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