Help or hindrance? Minority versus majority cross-ethnic friendships altering discrimination experiences

We examined the interplay between perceived ethnic discrimination (PED) as a risk factor, and cross-ethnic friendships as a protective factor in culturally diverse classrooms, and how they relate to the socioemotional adjustment of ethnic minority boys and girls. We conducted multi-level analyses of 327 Turkish-heritage ethnic minority early-adolescents in Germany (62 classrooms; Mage=11.59 years, SDage=0.76). Higher rates of PED were associated with more depressive symptoms and disruptive behaviors and lower general life satisfaction—though these effects differed by gender. Unexpectedly, cross-ethnic friendships with ethnic majority peers exacerbated the negative effects of PED on socioemotional adjustment. This effect was decreased, though, when adolescents perceived the classroom climate to be supportive of intergroup contact toward majority-minority cross-ethnic friendships. Supportive classroom climate also buffered the effects of PED for youth with minority cross-ethnic friends. Results indicate the need to differentiate types of cross-ethnic relationships and account for the intergroup climate.


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