The Influence of Interracial Friendships on the Likelihood of Interracial Intimacy

Jiannbin Shiao, University of Oregon

Researchers regard interracial intimacy as a mechanism for integration because of the assumption that the partners come from distinct social worlds, e.g. racially homogeneous friendship networks. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades 7-12 in the U.S., I investigate the relationship between interracial intimacy and interracial friendship, specifically the question of how young adults’ chances of having an interracial romantic relationship depend on the racial composition of their friends during adolescence and their exposure to interracial relationships among these friends. My preliminary results suggest that interracial friendship remains a significant influence on the odds of interracial intimacy, even after controlling for selection bias, group size, and personal characteristics. Also, group size moderates the influence of friends’ interracial relationships and respondent’s own interracial relationships. In brief, non-casual contact influences interracial intimacy both independently and interactively with opportunities for casual contact.

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Presented in Session 98: Influences on Intimate Behaviors