The role of teacher emotional support in children's cross-ethnic friendship preferences

Marina Serdiouk, Travis M. Wilson, Scott D. Gest, Daniel Berry

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2 Scopus citations


The present study examined the role of observed teacher emotional support in children's preferences for cross- over same-ethnic friendships in elementary school classrooms. Grade, gender, and ethnic differences in the relations between teacher emotional support and children's friendship preferences were also examined. Participants were 1227 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade European American and African American students from 80 classrooms and their teachers followed longitudinally for one academic year. Our results revealed that teacher emotional support was positively associated with mean levels of cross-ethnic friendship preferences across the year among fifth grade boys only. Ethnicity did not moderate the relation between teacher emotional support and cross-ethnic friendship preferences. This study provides some of the first evidence that the positive effects of teacher warmth and responsiveness may extend to children's cross-ethnic sentiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-46
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article was based on a doctoral dissertation completed by Marina Serdiouk at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This research was supported by grants from the William T. Grant and Spencer Foundations ( #200900174 ) and from the Institute of Education Sciences ( #R305A100344 ) awarded to co-PI's Philip Rodkin and Scott Gest. We express our deepest appreciation to Philip Rodkin (deceased) for his lasting contributions to this project and to the peer relations field. We are also grateful to the children, teachers, and school principals who participated in this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


  • Cross-ethnic friendships
  • Elementary school
  • Same-ethnic friendships
  • Teacher emotional support


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