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Cross-ethnic Friendships and Intergroup Attitudes among Asian American Adolescents

  • Author(s): CHEN, XIAOCHEN;
  • Advisor(s): Graham, Sandra;
  • et al.

This study examined Asian American adolescents' cross-ethnic friendship choices and their intergroup attitudes with a sample of 762 sixth grade Asian students in 19 middle schools varying in ethnic composition. Multiple measures of friendship (quantity and quality) and intergroup attitudes (affective, behavioral, and cognitive attitudes) were included. The results showed that Asian American students had distinctive relations with peers from different ethnic groups. They had a strong in-group preference when choosing friends, and when there was a lack of own-group peers at school, they over-selected White students as friends. However, they never over-selected other ethnic minority peers as their friends when school availability was accounted for. Similarity in academic achievement was important for Asian students to form friendships with Latinos and Blacks. Asian students also reported worse attitudes toward Latinos and Blacks than their attitudes toward Whites. Significant within-group differences in cross-ethnic peer relations were also found: South Asian students nominated more cross-ethnic friends than East and Southeast Asians, and South Asian students also reported better intergroup attitudes than students from other regions of Asia. Cross-ethnic friendships were related to better intergroup attitudes, especially the behavioral dimension of attitudes. A doing-feeling-thinking mediation model suggested that a cross-ethnic friendship first promotes behavioral closeness toward the whole out-group, and behavioral closeness leads to more positive feelings, which in turn generates better cognitive evaluations of the out-group. Implications for future research, educational practice, and attitude intervention programs were discussed.

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