Friendship patterns among African American, Asian American, and Latino adolescents from low-income families

Niobe Way, Kirsten Cowal, Rachel Gingold, Kerstin Pahl, Nirvani Bissessar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using quantitative and qualitative methods, the present study sought to explore: the patterns or types of closest, same-sex friendships among ethnic minority, low-income adolescents; the psychological and familial correlates of these patterns; and the adolescents' subjective experiences of each type of closest, same-sex friendships. Two hundred and thirteen African American, Latino, and Asian American high school students participated in the study. Results of cluster analyses suggested four types of closest, same-sex friendships: (i) 'ideal'; (ii) 'engaged'; (iii) 'average'; and (iv) 'disengaged.' Girls and Latinos were most likely to have 'ideal' friendships, while boys and Asian Americans were most likely to have 'disengaged' friendships. In addition, the 'disengaged' adolescents reported significantly lower self-esteem, higher levels of depressive symptoms, and lower levels of family support than the adolescents in the other cluster groups. The qualitative data suggested across and within group variability in the subjective experiences of closest, same-sex friendships. Findings suggest new directions for friendship research as well as new ways of conceptualizing the integration of quantitative and qualitative data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-53
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Adolescents
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Friendships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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