Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 347–357 | Cite as

Friendships and Romantic Relationships of Black and White Adolescents

  • Maria E. PaganoEmail author
  • Barton J. Hirsch
Original Paper


Prior research on adolescent peer relationships has focused on interpersonal dimensions of friendships but not of romantic relationships, and has rarely examined minority groups. We used a random sample of 122 adolescents to examine race and gender differences in friendships, romantic relationships, and the congruence between closest friendship and romantic relationship on five interpersonal domains: mutual support, self-disclosure, hurtful conflict, fear of betrayal, and interpersonal sensitivity. Significant race by gender differences in the difference between relationship type for both positive and negative dimensions of relationships were found. White girls reported significantly higher levels of self-disclosure in their friendship ties in comparison to romantic relationship, whereas white boys reported nearly equivalent levels. In comparison to white adolescents, Black adolescent girls and boys had similar levels of self-disclosure in their romantic relationships as their same-sex friendships. With regards to negative elements of relationships, girls reported more hurtful conflict in romance than friendship, whereas boys reported an opposite pattern. Results highlight the importance of consideration of race and gender influences on youth interpersonal skills within peer and romantic relationships.


Friendship Romance Adolescents Race Gender 



We would like to thank Alexis Engel Levy and Rebecca Ionescu for their assistance with this study. This study was sponsored in part by the Spencer Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Division of Child PsychiatryCase Western Reserve University School of MedicineClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Social PolicyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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