Quality and Stability of Cross-Ethnic Friendships: Effects of Classroom Diversity and Out-of-School Contact
Cross-ethnic friendships are linked to a range of positive outcomes in adolescence, but have been shown to be lower quality and less stable than same-ethnic friendships. The current study examined how classroom diversity and out-of-school contact contribute to these relational differences between cross-and same-ethnic friendships. Multilevel analyses were conducted on a sample of 9,171 classroom-based friends nested within 4,333 ethnically diverse sixth grade students (54% female; 32% Latino, 20% White, 14% East/Southeast Asian, 12% African American, 14% Multiethnic, 8% Other ethnic). Consistent with the hypotheses, lower ethnic diversity in classes shared by friends and lack of home contact (as opposed to electronic) contributed to relational differences between cross- and same-ethnic friendships. The findings suggest that while diverse classrooms enable youth to bond across ethnic groups, connecting outside of school is critical for the relational quality and longevity of cross-ethnic friendships.
KeywordsCross-ethnic friendships Friendship quality Friendship stability Ethnic diversity Middle school
The authors want to thank Dr. Sandra Graham (PI of the Project) and the members of the UCLA Middle School Diversity team for their contributions to collection of the data, and all school personnel and participants for their cooperation.
LL conceived of the current study, participated in its design, participated in analysis and interpretation of the data, and helped to draft the manuscript. KK conceived of the current study, participated in its design, participated in analysis and interpretation of the data, and helped to draft the manuscript. JJ conceived of the current study, participated in its design, participated in analysis and interpretation of the data, and helped to draft the manuscript, and was a principal investigator on the larger project from which the present analyses were conducted. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (Grant 1R01HD059882-01A2) and the National Science Foundation (No. 0921306).
Data Sharing and Declaration
The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures involving human participants in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University’s Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in this study.
- Abeele, M. V., Schouten, A. P., & Antheunis, M. L. (2017). Personal, editable, and always accessible: anaffordance approach to the relationship between adolescents’ mobile messaging behavior and their friendship quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 34, 875–893. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407516660636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
- Bagwell, C. L., & Bukowski, W. M. (2018). Friendship in childhood and adolescence: Features, effects and processes. In W. M. Bukowski, B. Laursen & K. H. Rubin (Eds.), Handbook of Peer Interactions, Relationships, and Groups. 2nd ed (pp. 371–390). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Baiocco, R., Laghi, F., Schneider, B. H., Dalessio, M., Amichai-Hamburger, Y., Coplan, R. J., & Flament, M. (2011). Daily patterns of communication and contact between Italian early adolescents and their friends. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14, 467–471. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2010.0208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Blakemore, S.-J., & Mills, K. L. (2014). Is adolescence a sensitive period for sociocultural processing? Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 187–207. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115202.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Berndt, T. J., & McCandless, M. A. (2009). Methods for investigating children’s relationships with friends. In K. H. Rubin, W. M. Bukowski & B. Laursen (Eds.), Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups. New York, NY: Guilford Press US.Google Scholar
- Bornstein, R. F., & Craver-Lemley, C. (2004). Mere exposure effect. In R. F. Pohl (Ed.), Cognitive illusions: A handbook on fallacies and biases in thinking, judgment and memory (pp. 215–234). Hove, UK: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Bronfrenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (1998). The ecology of developmental processes. In R. Lerner (Eds), Handbook of child psychology: Theoretical models of human development. 5th edn, Vol. 1 (pp. 993–1028). New York, NY: John Wiley.Google Scholar
- Cillessen, A. H. N., & Marks, P. E. L. (2011). Conceptualizing and measuring popularity. In A. H. N. Cillessen, D. Schwartz & L. Mayeux (Eds.), Popularity in the peer system (pp. 25–56). New York, NY: Guilford Press US.Google Scholar
- Eccles, J. S., Midgley, C., Wigfield, A., Buchanan, C. M., Reuman, D., Flanagan, C., & Mac Iver, D. (1993). Development during adolescence: the impact of stage-environment fit on young adolescents’ experiences in schools and in families. American Psychologist, 48, 90–101. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.48.2.90.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Echols, L., & Graham, S. (2013). Birds of a different feather: How do cross-ethnic friends flock together? Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 59, 461–488. https://doi.org/10.13110/merrpalmquar1982.59.4.0461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Enders, C. K. (2010). Applied missing data analysis. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Furman, W. (1996). The measurement of friendship perceptions: Conceptual and methodological issues. In W. Bukowski, A. Newcomb & W. Hartup (Eds.), The company they keep: Friendships in childhood and adolescence (pp. 41–65). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Graham, S., & Echols, L. (2018). Race and ethnicity in peer relations research. In W. M. Bukowski, B. Laursen & K. H. Rubin (Eds.), Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups. 2nd ed. (pp. 590–614). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Grütter, J. & Troop, L. R. (2018). How friendship is defined matters for predicting intergroup attitudes: Shared activities and mutual trust with cross-ethnic peers during late childhood and early adolescence. International Journal of Behavioral Development. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025418802471
- Joyner, K., & Kao, G. (2000). School racial composition and adolescent racial homophily. Social Science Quarterly, 81, 810–825.Google Scholar
- Kao, G., & Joyner, K. (2004). Do race and ethnicity matter among friends? Activities among interracial, interethnic, and intraethnic adolescent friends. The Sociological Quarterly, 45, 557–573. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-8525.2004.tb02303.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kawabata, Y., & Crick, N. R. (2015). Direct and interactive links between cross-ethnic friendships and peer rejection, internalizing symptoms, and academic engagement among ethnically diverse children. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 21, 191–200. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038451.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Lenhart, A. (2012). Teens, smartphones, and texting. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.Google Scholar
- Madden, M., Cortesi, S., Gasser, U., Lenhart, A., & Duggan, M. (2012). Parents, teens, and online privacy. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project.Google Scholar
- McDonald, K. L., Dashiell-Aje, E., Menzer, M. M., Rubin, K. H., Oh, W., & Bowker, J. C. (2013). Contributions of racial and sociobehavioral homophily to friendship stability and quality among same-race and cross-race friends. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 33, 897–919. https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431612472259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Meter, D. J., & Card, N. A. (2017). Stability of children’s and adolescents’ friendships: a meta-analytic review. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 62, 252–284. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.13110/merrpalmquar1982.62.3.0252. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: applications and data analysis methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.Google Scholar