Racial Discrimination Experiences and Friendship Network Dynamics Among Black and Latinx Youth

Olga Kornienko, Carlos Santos, Eleanor K. Seaton, Marissa Davila, Pamela W. Garner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite a robust volume of evidence documenting adverse effects of racial discrimination experiences on adolescent adjustment outcomes, relatively little is known about the relational consequences of racial discrimination experiences for adolescent friendship networks. To address this gap, this study examines how racial discrimination experiences shape and are shaped by friendship network dynamics in early and middle adolescence. The current study’s goals were to explicate whether relational consequences of racial discrimination experiences for friendship network selection differed between interracial and intraracial friendships among Black and Latinx youth, and how these adolescents were influenced by their friends’ racial discrimination experiences. Longitudinal social network analysis was used among a sample of predominantly Latinx and Black middle school students from the southwestern U.S. (n = 1034; 50.1% boys, Mage = 12.1, 13.8% White, 18.6% Black, 53.1% Latinx, 14.4% Other race and multiracial). The results showed that Black and Latinx youth preferred intraracial friends. Above and beyond that, Black youth were more likely to have intraracial friendships when the focal individual reported lower levels of general racial discrimination experiences and higher levels of adult-perpetrated racial discrimination experiences. Black and Latinx adolescents reported increases in general racial discrimination experiences over time, as a function of their friends reporting higher levels of racial discrimination (e.g., peer influence). These findings advance developmental research by showing that racial discrimination experiences are consequential for friendship network dynamics by increasing the likelihood of intraracial friend selection among Black youth and through peer influence processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-700
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Peer influence
  • Peer selection
  • Racial discrimination
  • Social network analysis
  • Stochastic actor-oriented modeling (RSiena)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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