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Patterns of Adult Cross-Racial Friendships: A Context for Understanding Contemporary Race Relations
UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science Supported Publications
  • Deborah L. Plummer, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Rosalie A. Torres Stone, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Lauren R. Powell, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Jeroan J. Allison, University of Massachusetts Medical School
UMMS Affiliation
Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Department of Psychiatry
Publication Date
Document Type

OBJECTIVES: This study examined patterns, characteristics, and predictors of cross-racial friendships as the context for understanding contemporary race relations.

METHOD: A national survey included 1,055 respondents, of whom 55% were white, 32% were black, and 74% were female; ages ranged from 18 to > /=65 years. Focus groups were conducted to assess societal and personal benefits. Participants (n = 31) were racially diverse and aged 20 to 66 years.

RESULTS: After accounting for multiple covariates, regression analysis revealed that Asians, Hispanics, and multiracial individuals are more likely than their white and black counterparts to have cross-racial friends. Females were less likely than males to have 8 or more cross-racial friends. Regression analysis revealed that the depth of cross-racial friendships was greater for women than men and for those who shared more life experiences. Increasing age was associated with lower cross-racial friendship depth. Qualitative analysis of open-ended questions and focus group data established the social context as directly relevant to the number and depth of friendships. Despite the level of depth in cross-racial friendships, respondents described a general reluctance to discuss any racially charged societal events, such as police shootings of unarmed black men.

CONCLUSION: This study identified salient characteristics of individuals associated with cross-racial friendships and highlighted the influence of the social, historical, and political context in shaping such friendships. Our findings suggest that contemporary race relations reflect progress as well as polarization.

  • UMCCTS funding
DOI of Published Version

Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2016 Apr 14. doi:10.1037/cdp0000079. Link to article on publisher's site

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Link to Article in PubMed

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Citation Information
Deborah L. Plummer, Rosalie A. Torres Stone, Lauren R. Powell and Jeroan J. Allison. "Patterns of Adult Cross-Racial Friendships: A Context for Understanding Contemporary Race Relations" (2016) ISSN: 1077-341X (Linking)
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