self-disclosure is reciprocal. In general, the research indicates that these generalizations are true. However, these generalizations may affect our perceptions of self-disclosure and hence it might be best to use observational measures of self-disclosure. When self-report measures are used, it is important to use intersubjective perceptions of self-disclosure (i.e., ask each partner to rate self-disclosure given and received).
The results of the three meta-analyses also have implications for gender differences. Gender was examined as a main effect in the meta-analysis on sex differences in self-disclosure and as a moderator variable in the meta-analysis on self-disclosure and liking. The meta-analysis on reciprocity of self-disclosure did not test the moderating effect of gender. Gender had a small main effect on self-disclosure. It also had an effect on the disclosure-liking relation (but not the liking-disclosure relation) but it did not, by itself, moderate the disclosure-liking relation. Thus, it appears that sex does not exert a large or stable influence on the process of self-disclosure.
The knowledge gained from these three meta-analyses indicates that the importance placed on self-disclosure in the interpersonal communication literature and the personal relationships literature is not unfounded. Self-disclosure appears to be a key variable in the process of relationship development and maintenance. Self-disclosure is reciprocal for both strangers and intimates. Self-disclosure causes liking, and vice versa, and this appears to be true for both strangers and intimates. Although women disclose slightly more than men, and the disclosure-liking relation appears to be slightly stronger for female than male disclosures, in general, it appears that the process of self-disclosure is more similar than different for men and women.