Feeling (Mis)understood and Intergroup Friendships in Interracial Interactions

Published in: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, v. 40, no. 9, Sep. 2014, p. 1193-1204

Posted on RAND.org on August 12, 2014

by Nicole Shelton, Sara Douglass, Randi L. Garcia, Tiffany Yip, Thomas E. Trail

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The present research investigated whether having out-group friends serves as a buffer for feeling misunderstood in interracial interactions. Across three experience sampling studies, we found that among ethnic minorities who have few White friends or are not interacting with White friends, daily interracial interactions are associated with feeling less understood. By contrast, we found that among ethnic minorities who have more White friends or are interacting with White friends, the relationship between daily interracial interactions and feeling understood is not significant. We did not find similar results for Whites; that is, having ethnic minority friends did not play a role in the relationship between daily interracial interactions and feeling understood. Together, these studies demonstrate the beneficial effects of intergroup friendships for ethnic minorities.

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