Intergroup Contact and the Potential for Post-Conflict Reconciliation: Studies in Northern Ireland and South Africa

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Abstract

With surveys of Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, and Whites and Blacks in South Africa, this research examines how both contact quality and exposure to intergroup conflict predict attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors relevant to intergroup reconciliation. Across both studies, contact of higher quality predicted more positive intergroup attitudes, trust, more positive perceptions of outgroup intentions in working toward peace, and greater engagement in reconciliation efforts. These effects were observed when controlling for exposure to conflict-related violence in one’s neighborhood growing up, and the extent to which one has personally suffered due to the conflict. Implications of these findings for future work on intergroup contact and reconciliation efforts are discussed.

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