Racial/Ethnic Discrimination and Adolescents' Well-Being: The Role of Cross-Ethnic Friendships and Friends' Experiences of Discrimination

Child Dev. 2017 Mar;88(2):493-504. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12606. Epub 2016 Aug 25.


There is an extensive body of work documenting the negative socioemotional and academic consequences of perceiving racial/ethnic discrimination during adolescence, but little is known about how the larger peer context conditions such effects. Using peer network data from 252 eighth graders (85% Latino, 11% African American, 5% other race/ethnicity), the present study examined the moderating role of cross-ethnic friendships and close friends' experiences of discrimination in the link between adolescents' perceptions of discrimination and well-being. Cross-ethnic friendships and friends' experiences of discrimination generally served a protective role, buffering the negative effects of discrimination on both socioemotional well-being and school outcomes. Overall, results highlight the importance of considering racial/ethnic-related aspects of adolescents' friendships when studying interpersonal processes closely tied to race/ethnicity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Female
  • Friends / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Racism / ethnology*