Benefits of Developing Friendships with International Partner Students in a Global Understanding Course


  • Marion A. Eppler Department of Psychology East Carolina University
  • Fiona Scott


This study used assessment data from a Global Understanding (GU) course to examine the impact of intercultural interaction when students feel that they have developed close friendships. The GU course follows empirically-based guidelines for reducing prejudice, and even though it provides students with a unique opportunity to interact with different cultural groups, this contact does not automatically benefit all students. However, when students develop close friendships with their international partners during the GU course, as many of these students do, then they reap the benefits described in the research literature as important for reducing prejudice—increased knowledge about outgroups, decreased communication anxiety, and increased perspective taking.