Childhood friendships across ethnicities have positive psychological effects

I have always believed in multiracial and multicultural friendships and always will. But this has now being scientifically proven in a University study. Having friends from different ethnic backgrounds can have beneficial psychological effects, according to research from Goldsmiths, University of London.

cross ethnic children

Cross-ethnic childhood friendships can build psychological resilience and well-being amongst South Asian British children, the study has found.

The research, carried out by the Unit for School and Family Studies at the Department of Psychology, found that although the quality of these friendships is important, continuous and frequent positive interactions with people of other ethnicities may be more effective in reducing the effects of discrimination on children.

The beneficial psychological effects were particularly strong in buffering the negative effects that ethnic discrimination, whether real or perceived, can have on British children from South Asian backgrounds.

Professor Adam Rutland, one of the chief researchers, said: “This research is really important in developing and improving our understanding of relationships across ethnicities. Previously, literature had shown that contact between children from different ethnic groups has some benefits, such as improving the attitudes of majority status children.

“With this research, we have managed to show that these types of relationships have serious implications for shielding minority status children from ugly consequences of discrimination that still persists, even in multi-ethnic cities like London. It seems that the more multi-ethnic friendships that children have, the better.”

The researchers interviewed 247 South Asian British children living in lower-middle class areas of London, who were asked questions that measured:

· their perceived number of friends across ethnicities

· the quality of such friendships (how frequently they met, how close they felt)

· their psychological well-being and resilience

· their perceived ethnic discrimination

The research focused on South Asian British children because this ethnic group is most likely to experience ethnic discrimination compared with other ethnic groups in the UK, and typically report relatively high levels of racist bullying in British schools.

The research has been published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology and can be found here.

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