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Br J Educ Psychol. 2013 Mar;83(Pt 1):57-75. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8279.2011.02054.x. Epub 2011 Dec 7.

It's never too late for 'us' to meet 'them': prior intergroup friendships moderate the impact of later intergroup friendships in educational settings.

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1
University of Oxford, UK. ananthi.alramiah@psy.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In this paper, we focused on mixing in educational settings between members of Catholic and Protestant ethnoreligious groups in Northern Ireland.

AIMS:

In Study 1, we examined whether opportunities for contact at home and at university were associated with greater actual out-group friendships, and whether this friendship was associated with a reduction in prejudice. We also assessed whether the impact of out-group friendships at university was moderated by experience of out-group friendships outside university, such that the prejudice-reducing effect of university friendships was stronger for those with fewer friendships at home. In Study 2, we assessed opportunities for contact and actual out-group friendships at prior stages of the educational system and their relationship with prejudice. Sample(s). In both studies, our participants were students at universities in Northern Ireland (Study 1 N= 304 and Study 2 N= 157).

METHODS:

We analysed the data using multiple regression and structural equation modelling.

RESULTS:

First, opportunities for contact were positively associated with self-reported out-group friendships in all domains and stages of the educational system. Second, having more out-group friends was associated with reduced prejudice. Finally, the relationship between out-group friendships and current levels of prejudice was moderated by prior levels of out-group friendships (at home in Study 1; and at secondary and primary school in Study 2).

CONCLUSIONS:

Contact, in the form of out-group friendships, was more powerful when it was a novel feature in a person's life. We discuss these findings in terms of the impact of mixing in educational contexts, especially in Northern Ireland, and outline suggestions for future research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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