Social Indicators Research

, Volume 123, Issue 3, pp 897–917 | Cite as

Psychological Well-Being and Brokerage in Friendship Networks of Young Swedes

  • Gerald MollenhorstEmail author
  • Christofer Edling
  • Jens Rydgren


All ethnic groups have norms and values according to which one is expected to behave. Immigrants in particular have personal networks that simultaneously consist of co-ethnics and friends of a different ethnic background. As a consequence, they may be accustomed to the behavior, norms, and values of their own ethnic group, and also be expected to behave according to those of another ethnic group. This may either lead to ego-gratification and the strengthening and enrichment of their personality, or to feelings of stress and non-acceptance if they cannot behave fully in accordance with the expectations of their friends. This study addresses the association between interethnic open triads in networks (i.e., brokerage) and individual psychological well-being. That is, we examine whether having intra-ethnic and interethnic relationships with friends who are not also friends with each other, is either positively or negatively associated with psychological well-being. Using (network) data from a large sample (N = 2,942; age = 19) of native Swedes and first- and second-generation immigrants from former Yugoslavia and Iran (all born in 1990 and currently living in Sweden), we show that interethnic brokerage is negatively associated with psychological well-being, which implies that the different norms, values and corresponding behaviors that prevail in different ethnic groups to which the ethnic broker is connected may result in internal and external conflicts, to feelings that one is not fully accepted by any of these groups, and ultimately to a lower level of psychological well-being.


Interethnic relationships Brokerage Psychological well-being Triads Friendships Personal networks 



This study is part of the research project “Individual Life Chances in Social Context—A Longitudinal Multi-Methods Perspective on Social Constraints and Opportunities”, which is supported by a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant to Jens Rydgren as principal investigator (grant no. 263422). An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 10th Conference on Applications of Social Network Analysis at the University of Zürich, Switzerland (August, 2013).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald Mollenhorst
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Christofer Edling
    • 3
  • Jens Rydgren
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of Sociology/ICSUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of SociologyLund UniversityLundSweden

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