The relationship between social contact and comfort with social interaction among student ethnic groups at Oregon State University Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/6q182p27r

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  • The purpose of this study was to investigate the level of social interaction and social distance or comfort among five undergraduate ethnic groups (African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Caucasian Americans, and Hispanic Americans) at Oregon State University. Another purpose was to explore the correlation between the level of social contact and comfort or social distance among the five ethnic groups. The sample included 284 full time continuing undergraduate students at Oregon State University. The contact scale included items measuring the number of acquaintances, frequency of interaction, positive degree of feeling, number of friends, and duration of contact. The comfort scale was a modified version of Byrnes and Kiger's (1988) Social Scale. It asked respondents to rate from one (very uncomfortable) to seven (very comfortable) their comfort with people of different ethnicities in six roles as: president of the United States, a counselor, a professor, a small group member in a classroom or group activity, a roommate, or a date. Two-way analyses of variance provided comparative information about ethnicity and gender. Newman-Keuls tests of significance were also employed. Pearson correlation coefficients were used to investigate the relationship between contact and comfort. Results of the study showed that students were generally comfortable with all groups, but least comfortable with Asian Americans. As a group, Asian Americans were less comfortable with other groups than were other ethnic groups. Minority groups were most comfortable with their own group. All minority groups except African Americans were significantly more comfortable with Caucasian Americans than with other minority groups. Correlations between contact and comfort for each group were positive and significant in all but 18 of 60 correlations performed. They were not significant for American Indians as either respondent or target group. In addition, results showed that there are not as many American Indian students at OSU as was originally thought. Further, students indicated little interaction with American Indians.
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