L. David Ritchie

Date of Award

Fall 1-16-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Communication



Physical Description

1 online resource (iii, 104 pages)


Gordon W. Allport (Gordon Willard) 1897-1967 -- Criticism and interpretation, Interpersonal communication in adolescence -- Cross-cultural studies, Social interaction in adolescence -- Cross-cultural studies, Interracial friendship




The purpose of this study was to understand how early adolescents talk about cross-racial and cross-ethnic friendships. Gordon Allport's intergroup contact theory provided the framework for studying the elements needed for inter-racial and inter-ethnic friendship formation. Qualitative data were drawn from four separately recorded peer group conversations. Participants (n=18) were recruited from Parrish Middle School in Salem, Oregon. Patterns that emerged from the data were sorted, categorized and identified according to the tenets of intergroup contact theory or extensions of intergroup contact theory. Analysis also looked at the use of metaphors and storytelling among adolescents. Results showed that while intergroup contact theory tenets of interdependence and common goals can foster cross-ethnic and cross-racial friendships, most students form these friendships through friendship chaining and common interests. Dual racial identity and peer group influence can also be positive factors in cross-racial and cross-ethnic friendship development. Further, storytelling examples by adolescents showed similar techniques to those used by adults. Overall the results from this study support intergroup contact theory as continuing to be a useful conceptual framework for encouraging cross-group relations.

Persistent Identifier