When Deficits are Misplaced: A Comparison Between African American and White College Students on Qualitative and Structural Dimensions of Interpersonal Relationships

Ronald Pitner, Lionel Scott, Kendra DeLoach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research on interpersonal relationships has indicated extensive differences between African American and White individuals. These differences often have been interpreted as suggesting deficits among African American, as compared to White, relationship patterns. Much of this research has been at a macro-level of analysis, focusing on structural aspects of relationships (e. g., number of single-parent families, number of friends). Although useful, such a focus tends to obscure more qualitative characteristics (e. g., degree of satisfaction, meaning of relationship, attachment), which are better assessed at a micro-level. This study examined the characteristics of family and other relationships among 73 African American and 185 White college students using measures of qualitative characteristics, as well as broader structural categories. Results replicated and further confirmed previous reports comparing African American and White individuals on relationship patterns when viewed from the perspective of broader structural characteristics. In contrast, few differences existed between these two groups in qualitative dimensions of relationships (i. e., their degree of satisfaction with and attachment to various relational partners).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-536
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of African American Studies
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • African American
  • Family
  • Loneliness
  • Qualitative
  • Relationships
  • Social network
  • Structural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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