Willingness to Engage in Intergroup Contact: A Multilevel Approach

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Abstract

Numerous studies point to the potential of intergroup contact for reducing prejudice and intergroup tension. However, this potential can be realized only when group members are willing to engage in intergroup contact. The goal of the current article is to provide a theoretical framework for understanding the barriers and the motivations that explain why individuals would be willing (or not) to engage in intergroup contact. Our taxonomy relies on Pettigrew’s (1997) multilevel approach for analyzing social phenomenon, considering the impact of factors at the macro societal level, the meso intermediate level, and the micro individual level. This taxonomy enables us to devote special attention to barriers and motivations that are specific to groups trapped in violent intergroup conflict (macrolevel factors), to barriers and motivations that result from membership in social groups (mesolevel factors), and to motivators and barriers that exist at the intrapersonal level (e.g., microlevel factors). We discuss the integration of the various levels and the implication of such integration for future research and practice. This article forms a roadmap for investigating a relatively understudied angle in the literature on contact and provides both theoretical and practical insights as to when and why individuals are willing to engage in intergroup contact.

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