Promoting Intergroup Contact by Changing Beliefs: Group Malleability, Intergroup Anxiety, and Contact Motivation

Emotion. 2012 Dec;12(6):1192-5. doi: 10.1037/a0028620. Epub 2012 May 28.

Abstract

Intergroup contact plays a crucial role in moderating long-term conflicts. Unfortunately, the motivation to make contact with outgroup members is usually very low in such conflicts. We hypothesized that one limiting factor is the belief that groups cannot change, which leads to increased intergroup anxiety and decreased contact motivation. To test this hypothesis, we experimentally manipulated beliefs about group malleability in the context of the conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots and then assessed intergroup anxiety and motivation to engage in intergroup contact. Turkish Cypriots who were led to believe that groups can change (with no mention of the specific groups involved) reported lower levels of intergroup anxiety and higher motivation to interact and communicate with Greek Cypriots in the future, compared with those who were led to believe that groups cannot change. This effect of group malleability manipulation on contact motivation was mediated by intergroup anxiety.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Attitude / ethnology*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Cyprus / ethnology
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Young Adult