Hallinan, Maureen T., & Smith, Stevens
The Effects of Classroom Racial Composition on Students' Interracial Friendliness
University of Notre Dame
Effects of classroom racial composition of a classroom on students' cross-race and same-race friendships.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 3-16
- The cross-sectional analyses show that as the proportion of one racial group in a classroom increases, other students become friendlier toward that group.
- The longitudinal analyses show that as the Black proportion decreases, Blacks are more likely to change from a weak to a stronger friendship tie. This effect is much weaker for Whites.
- Racially balanced classrooms maximize the interracial friendships for Blacks and Whites.
- Results provide strong support for the opportunity hypothesis and show little evidence that being in the racial minority diminishes interracial friendliness.
- The proportion of cross-race and same-race best-friend choices is greater for blacks than for Whites, reflecting the greater friendliness of Blacks.
- Proportion Black has a statistically significant negative ef- fect on the likelihood that a Black student will choose a White classmate as best friend in five of the six time points over the school year.
- Black students are less likely to choose Whites as best friends as the proportion of Blacks in the class increases and are more likely to choose Whites as the proportion of Whites increases.
- Apparently neither Blacks nor Whites feel so threatened by being in the minority that they insulate themselves from the other race and form closer same-race friendship ties than they would in segregated classrooms.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Classroom Composition, Cross Race Friendships, Desegregation, Diversity, Friendships
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- Cross-sectional data at six points in time is analyzed. The analysis is part of a larger longitudinal study of the change in children's friendships.
- The data set includes info on 1,477 students in 48 classrooms in 10 schools in northern California. 18 classrooms were selected based on racial composition.
- Test two "theories" of interracial sociability; (1) one that argues that interracial friendliness is affected primarily by the number of opportunities students have for cross-race interaction relative to same race interaction. (2) The racial minority is socially threatened by the majority and tends to isolate itself from the more dominant and powerful other race.
- Develops cross sectional and longitudinal analyses.
- The classes are 4th-7th grade in three public schools and one private school.
- The sample is 473 students (54% Black and 46% White) in 18 desegregated classes. The classes range from 17% to 89% Black.
- Background info on students and class level data were obtained from school records and from teachers. Children completed a survey in which they indicated their friends from a list of classmates' names.
- IV: Percent Black, class size, gender, and grade.
- DV: Best friend choice