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Rob Stephenson

Structural effect of size on interracial friendship

Publication Abstract

Cheng, Siwei, and Yu Xie. 2013. "Structural effect of size on interracial friendship." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(18): 7165-9.

Social contexts exert structural effects on individuals' social relationships, including interracial friendships. In this study, we posit that, net of group composition, total context size has a distinct effect on interracial friendship. Under the assumptions of (i) maximization of preference in choosing a friend, (ii) multidimensionality of preference, and (iii) preference for same-race friends, we conducted analyses using microsimulation that yielded three main findings. First, increased context size decreases the likelihood of forming an interracial friendship. Second, the size effect increases with the number of preference dimensions. Third, the size effect is diluted by noise, i.e., the randomcomponent affecting friendship formation. Analysis of actual friendship data among 4,745 American high school students yielded results consistent with the main conclusion that increased context size promotes racial segregation and discourages interracial friendship.

DOI:10.1073/pnas.1303748110 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC3645520. (Pub Med Central)

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