Gender similarity in growth patterns of support toward friends during young adulthood


adolescence, friendship, gender similarity, growth mixture model, prosocial behavior


The purpose of this article was to analyze change over time in a specific aspect of prosocial behavior, emotional support toward friends, using two different methodologies. We examined how emotional support changes during the transition to adulthood and whether gender‐based group comparisons yield different gender patterns than person-centered growth mixture models. We hypothesized that emotional helping toward friends would increase over time and that person‐centered analyses would not show gender differences as large as those indicated by group comparison models. Participants were 466 young adults (ages 18–21). Findings indicated that important intragroup variance was masked when analyses focused on comparisons between gender groups. Person‐centered analyses indicated two mixed‐gender groups with different prosocial trajectories. We discuss how the methods and outcomes of person‐centered analyses are more congruent with current theories of “gender similarities” as well as empirical evidence of the small gender difference in social behaviors such as emotional support.

Original Publication Citation

*Neilson, M. G., *Xiao, S. X., & Padilla-Walker, L. M. (2019, onlinefirst). Gender similarity in growth patterns of support toward friends during young adulthood. Social Development.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Social Development




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor