Increasing Positivity Matters. Differential Effects of the Intensity of Positively and Negatively Valenced Intergroup Contact: Evidence from Survey and Experimental Research

Schäfer, S. (FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany), Fell, B. (Oxford University, UK), Hewstone, M. (Oxford University, UK), Christ, O. (FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany)

Research on intergroup contact has only recently begun to consider the effects of both positive and negative intergroup contact on intergroup attitudes, and little is known about what factors may differentially influence these effects. We propose that differentiating not only between positive and negative contact (i.e., its valence), but also considering the intensity of contact is critical to understanding the impact of contact on attitudes. We specifically predicted that contact intensity affects the perception and impact of positive, but not of negative contact, as mildly negative events already have a strong impact on attitudes. Evidence from a survey of majority and minority members (N = 2994) including a subjective measure of intensity, and three experiments (two online: N = 87; N = 169; one in-person: N = 80) including manipulations of intensity and valence, supported our hypotheses. Overall, our results suggested that varying intensity adds to the effects of positive, but not negative contact. Intensity of valenced intergroup contact may thus be a key factor to resolve inconsistencies in the current literature on valenced intergroup contact.

Event Timeslots (1)

Overcoming Barriers to Intergroup Contact Symposium 2