Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 554–566 | Cite as

Quality and Stability of Cross-Ethnic Friendships: Effects of Classroom Diversity and Out-of-School Contact

  • Leah M. LessardEmail author
  • Kara Kogachi
  • Jaana Juvonen
Empirical Research


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.


Cross-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.

Authors’ Contributions

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.

Ethical Approval

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

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of EducationUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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