Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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Multiethnic schools provide opportunities for interethnic contact and the development of positive interethnic relations. Yet, some children develop such relations more easily than others. In the present study, we were interested in patterns of inter- and intraethnic friendships and the relative likeability of certain ethnic groups in ethnically heterogeneous schools. The sample comprised 842 early adolescents (Mage = 11.50 years, SDage = .71; 53% male) from 64 countries of origin who attend multiethnic schools in Southwest Germany. In line with our expectations, interethnic friendships are to a large extent formed on the basis of cultural distance, with more friendships occurring between groups that are culturally more similar. Further, the likeability of children from different ethnic groups follows the so-called ethnic hierarchy, a rank order of different ethnic groups, which is based on perceived similarity with the mainstream group. Interventions to improve early adolescents’ interethnic friendships should aim to reduce perceptions of cultural distance and ethnic hierarchies in intergroup settings.

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