Adult Kinship Networks: The Selective Formation of Intimate Ties with Kin

Danny R. Hoyt, Nicholas Babchuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


An important dimension of kinship networks is the existence of closer, more affective, bonds with kin. This study examines various factors commonly assumed to be related to the likelihood of certain kin being viewed as intimates, or confidants. The results show that spouses are about thirty times as likely to be selected as a confidant than an extended relative or a young child, about seven times as likely to be chosen as a parent, ten times as likely as an adult child, and fifteen times as likely as a sibling. Structural variables such as age, category of kin, stage in the life cycle, frequency of contact, and gender are central to explaining the intimate and confidant kin chosen. Women are both more likely to be cited as confidants and to have confidant ties with kin. Age is significant both in excluding very young kin from being viewed as confidants, and in the higher likelihood of all types of kin being confidants for respondents 75 or older. Frequency of interaction and status homogeneity (on age and gender) are not related to the probability of being a confidant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-101
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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