Research on diversity in higher education has evolved to consider the nature of interracial contact and campus climate as well as the factors that may foster meaningful interactions. While some studies have explored predictors of cross-racial interaction (CRI) and interracial friendship (IRF), it remains unclear whether and how the same precollege characteristics, institutional attributes, and collegiate experiences might predict both casual encounters and close friendships across race and ethnicity. This study used a fouryear, longitudinal sample of 2,932 undergraduates—with approximately equal numbers of Asian American/Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and White/Caucasian students—at 28 institutions to compare and contrast predictors of CRI and IRF. Subgroup analyses also explored the extent to which these relationships vary as a function of students’ race/ethnicity. The results of hierarchical linear modeling analyses predicting CRI diverge considerably from those predicting IRF; in fact, several independent variables that are positively related to CRI are also negatively related to IRF. Moreover, the results differ frequently by race/ethnicity, particularly for institutional characteristics and participation in student organizations. Implications for future research and institutional efforts to promote diverse learning environments are discussed.


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pp. 660-690
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