Friend group diversity and civic engagement among adolescents
Community and school settings have become more culturally and racially diverse. Therefore, students have more chances to make friends with others of various ethnicities and races in school. This poster will focus on the relationship between adolescents’ multicultural friendships and their participation in civic engagement. Participants were ninth-graders (N=439) from a midwestern city and they completed a survey in class. Students identified themselves as female (47.4%), male (44.6%), and others (8%). The demographic percentages were White (37.1%), African American (26.4%), Latinx (19.4%), Asian (3%), Native (2.1%), Biracial (10.5%), Pacific Islander (0.7%). Civic engagement was measured as the mean of the frequency of participating in 10 different activities in the last year (e.g., political campaign, political issue discussions, civil rights organizations). Participants also listed five friends and their race/ethnicities. Simpson’s diversity index was used to calculate the diversity of their friend group, with higher values indicating higher diversity. Regression analyses were used to test the association between the diversity of their friend group and their civic engagement. Controlling for whether students identify themselves as people of color or White, results indicate a significant association (B =.341, p =.004). The results show a positive association between the diversity of students’ friend groups and their willingness to engage in civil issues, including joining political issue discussions, joining a protest, or writing a poster for a political issue. Past research has shown racial group differences in types of civic engagement activities, including voting and persuading others, suggesting that having more diverse friend groups could expose youth to different types of activities. Future research should explore ways to how diverse friend groups among adolescents relate to their civic engagement.