The Iterative Effect of Negative and Positive Outgroup Contact on Outgroup Attitudes. Results from a Two-Week Diary Study in the U.K.

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Mathijs KROS, Utrecht University, Netherlands
This paper focuses on the relative openness of attitudes of the majority population towards Asian migrants in the U.K., and vice versa. By analyzing a two-week diary study conducted in July 2017, we study the net effect of a combination of positive and negative outgroup contact experiences on outgroup attitudes.

Contact with outgroup members typically leads to more positive and inclusive attitudes toward that group as a whole (Brown & Hewstone, 2005). However, most of this research has investigated positive contact experiences (Pettigrew, 2008), but recent studies also show the detrimental effects of negative contact (Pettigrew, Tropp, Wagner & Christ, 2011).

We extend this research by appreciating that people can have both positive and negative contact, and that people are likely to have more than one outgroup contact experience. First, we test whether the effects of contact –positive and negative– are stronger when people have had little to no contact in the past. Second, we test whether the valence of the contact one has previously had influences how a new experience affects one’s attitudes. For example, we will investigate whether positive intergroup experiences one has had in the past buffers against the detrimental effects of a new negative encounter.

These hypotheses are tested using unique, high-quality diary data. Besides filling in extended pre and post-tests, members of both the majority and the Asian migrant population were asked to keep a diary for 14 consecutive days. They could freely describe their intergroup contact, while also filling in some quantitative items. The data will be analyzed using a multi-level approach, with the diary entries nested within individuals. The diaries will also be subjected to a content analysis. This will result in additional descriptive results with examples of what people actually consider to be contact with members of different ethnic groups.