Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 11, pp 2165–2178 | Cite as

Cross-Ethnic Friendships, Intergroup Attitudes, Intragroup Social Costs, and Depressive Symptoms among Asian-American and Latino-American Youth

  • Annemarie KelleghanEmail author
  • Luiza Mali
  • Sarah Malamut
  • Daryaneh Badaly
  • Mylien Duong
  • David Schwartz
Empirical Research


As American school districts become increasingly diverse, understanding the processes that promote positive intergroup relations is a critical task. The role of cross-ethnic friendships is one important factor, given the significance of these reciprocated peer relationships for social development. The current study examines the short-term longitudinal impact of cross-ethnic friendships on peer group attitudes and emotional adjustment. 524 student participants (54.8% female; Mage = 15.06 years, SD = 0.75; 47% Latino, 53% Asian-American) were followed for one year with two spring data collections. Students completed a self-report inventory assessing depressive symptoms and a peer nomination inventory assessed friendship, liking, disliking, popularity, and unpopularity. Cross-ethnic friendships were predictive of positive attitudes toward peers from other ethnic/racial groups and were also linked to declines in depressive symptoms for boys. Moreover, these positive effects did not come at a social cost, as cross-ethnic friendships were not associated with rejection by same-ethnic peers. Cross-ethnic friendships provide a unique environment that contributes to positive intergroup attitudes and beneficial socioemotional development for some youth.


Cross-ethnic friendships Adolescence Ethnicity Peer attitudes Depressive symptoms 


Authors’ Contributions

AK conceived of the study design, performed statistical analyses, and drafted the manuscript; LM helped draft and revise manuscript content and provided interpretation of the results; SM contributed to the study design and analysis and provided critical revision of the manuscript; DB, MD, and DS participated in the study design and coordination and made substantial contributions to data acquisition and design conception; DS provided critical revisions for intellectual content, performed statistical analyses, and provided interpretation of the results. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Data Sharing and Declaration

This manuscript’s data will not be deposited.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Parental consent and youth assent were obtained from all participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Child Mind InstituteNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Committee for ChildrenSeattleUSA

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