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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2004 Jun;30(6):770-86.

Effects of direct and indirect cross-group friendships on judgments of Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland: the mediating role of an anxiety-reduction mechanism.

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School of Behavioural Sciences, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.


Recent evidence suggests that both direct and indirect friendship with outgroup members (knowledge of ingroup members' friendship with outgroup members) can reduce prejudice toward the outgroup. Two surveys of cross-community relationships in Northern Ireland, using a student sample (N = 341) and a representative sample of the general population (N = 735), tested whether (a) direct and indirect friendships had generalized effects on both prejudice and perceived outgroup variability and (b) reduced anxiety about future encounters with outgroup members mediated such relationships. Structural equation modeling confirmed that, in both samples, direct and indirect cross-group friendships between Catholics and Protestants were associated with reduced prejudice toward the religious outgroup and increased perceived outgroup variability, via an anxiety-reduction mechanism. It is argued that emerging generalization hypotheses help to integrate both cognition and affect and interpersonal and intergroup approaches to contact.

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