This qualitative study provides novel insights into exploring factors that influence intercultural friendship formation and friendship benefits, focusing on the role of communication. A research gap has been addressed by focusing on Muslim women who wear the hijab and exploring what factors had influenced their friendship formation with people from culturally different backgrounds and what impact the friendship had on the self. Findings suggested that cultural, linguistic and religious similarity was deemed as not important for friendship formation. Instead, similar values, self-disclosure and respectful communication assisted intercultural friendship formation. Friendship barriers included cultural misconceptions and behavioral uncertainty. Clear evidence emerged that these intercultural friendships led to positive attitudinal changes of the individuals within and beyond the friendship. This included increased cultural understanding, acceptance and self-reflection. It was revealed that cultural misconceptions (and levels of Islamophobia) were eliminated and ethnocentrism was reduced.
intercultural friendships, intercultural communication, friendship formation, Muslim, hijab, Islamophobia
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