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Diverse friendships offer many benefits for individuals and for intergroup relations, yet similarity is a powerful predictor of attraction and relationship formation. The current study examined how beliefs about the value of diversity relate to friendship choices. Naturally occurring dyads (N=552) were recruited from ten college campus and community samples varying in size and racial heterogeneity. A questionnaire assessed dyad members’ beliefs about the value of diversity (valuing diversity), ten social and political attitudes, and four social identity categories (race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, nationality). Multilevel models were estimated to examine dyad-level valuing diversity, community size and community racial heterogeneity as predictors of diverse friendships. Valuing diversity was a significant predictor of diverse friendships; valuing diversity increased the likelihood that dyad members were diverse in race, religion, and sexual orientation but not in nationality or attitudes. The effect of valuing diversity varied according to community size and racial heterogeneity. Valuing diversity increased the likelihood of racially diverse friendships more in communities high compared to low in racial heterogeneity, and increased religiously diverse friendships more in smaller compared to larger communities. Valuing diversity was associated with greater attitude similarity in larger communities but was unrelated to attitude similarity in smaller communities.


This is the author’s accepted version of the article:

Bahns, A. J. (2017). Preference, opportunity and choice: A multilevel analysis of diverse friendship formation. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1368430217725390

The advance online publication is available at: