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I've also read that having outbound links to sites with a much lower PR can have a negative influence on your own PR.
The problem with linking to low PR sites, IMO, is that the reason for a low PR COULD be that a site has been punished by Google for doing something fishy. So if you link to a "bad" site, or to dozens of bad sites, you might also get punished. That is how your PR could be affected. You can and will be punished by who you link to but not by who links to you. But you will never know for sure whether the low PR sites you link to are actually NORMAL low PR sites or PUNISHED low PR sites. Sometimes it's fairly easy to tell by doing a bit of detective work but not always.
But I wish I was 100% correct in this and I want to believe that: if I link to a site that's of great value to my visitors but with low PR I will not get punished for it if it's a "good" site. I think I'll just stick to this belief, keep my fingers crossed and hope I'm right. ;)
I guess you can depend on luck...I prefer research ;)
Take a look at the sites you want to link to. Having a low PR doesn't immediately mean a site has been punished. It might just be really small sites with very few or no incoming links at all. Check who those sites are linking to. If you find some obvious crooked ones there, you might be right that they've been punished. Check if they are hiding content from human visitors, if they use sneaky re-directs, if the indexed page in Google isn't the same as the page you land on when you click on their link. Cheers!