The Effects of Ingroup and Outgroup Friends on the Development of Outgroup Attitudes: A Five-Wave Longitudinal Social Network Study

Bracegirdle, C. (University of Oxford), Wölfer, R. (University of Oxford), van Zalk, M. (Osnabrück University), Hewstone, M. (University of Oxford)

An extensive body of research shows that outgroup contact improves outgroup attitudes, yet the corresponding influence of ingroup contact has been largely ignored. Our research provides a necessary holistic investigation of the development of outgroup attitudes by considering the effects of adolescents’ contact with both ethnic ingroup and outgroup members. Five waves of data were collected over the academic year 2017-2018 in two diverse English schools. The 1170 respondents (829 Asian, 341 White; 558 male, 612 female; aged 11-14 years) completed surveys every eight weeks, which contained both network and self-report measures. Friendship networks within each school year group were elicited using peer nomination procedures, and contact was operationalised as the number of nominated ingroup and outgroup friends. Outgroup attitudes were measured via self-report. Social network analyses (RSiena) revealed high levels of ethnic segregation and homophily. We used multilevel models to estimate the divergent effects of ingroup and outgroup contact on students’ outgroup attitudes, and co-evolution models to examine attitude socialisation in the friendship networks. Together these analyses provide insights into the importance of friendships with both ingroup and outgroup members for shaping adolescents’ outgroup attitudes, and illustrate the value of innovative social network analyses in understanding prejudice development.



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Person Perception and Stereotyping