Friendship similarity during early adolescence: gender and racial patterns

J Psychol. 1992 Jul;126(4):393-405. doi: 10.1080/00223980.1992.10543372.


We studied the relationship of reciprocity, gender, and racial composition (Caucasian, African American, cross-race) of adolescent friendship dyads to similarity and proximity in 136 young adolescents. We found that adolescents selected friends who were of the same gender and race and that female dyads were more similar than male dyads on verbal achievement and several personality dimensions. Caucasian dyads were more similar than African American dyads on verbal achievement, mental alertness, and dominance. African American adolescents had more contact with their best friends outside school, whereas Caucasian adolescent friends had more in-school contact. African American students had fewer reciprocal relationships than the Caucasian students. Cross-race friendships were less reciprocal than same-race friendships. Race and gender were important in determining friendship patterns. Similarity and proximity were more important than reciprocity in understanding early adolescent friendships.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adolescent
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Personality Development*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Sociometric Techniques