Birds of a different feather: How do cross-ethnic friends flock together?


This study examined how homophily (similarity) and propinquity (availability) simultaneously predict both unidirectional and reciprocal cross-ethnic friendships among early adolescents in ethnically diverse classrooms. In a sample of sixthgrade students, liking nominations were used as the indicator of friendship, and both unidirectional and reciprocal cross-ethnic liking nominations were strongly influenced by propinquity, particularly within friendship networks. Homophily appeared to have a greater influence on reciprocal cross-ethnic liking. Similar to previous research, high status ("cool") early adolescents were more likely to make unidirectional cross-ethnic liking nominations with lower-status peers. However, this effect diminished as classroom ethnic diversity increased, suggesting a unique relationship between classroom ethnic composition, peer status, and intergroup liking. The findings suggest that similarity, the availability of cross-ethnic peers in social networks, and peer status are salient predictors of cross-ethnic friendships, although the influence of each varies depending on whether the friendship is unidirectional or reciprocal. Implications for research on cross-ethnic friendships were discussed. © 2013 by Wayne State University Press, Detroit, MI 48201.

Document Type




Publication Date


Journal Title

Merrill-Palmer Quarterly