Intergroup Contact as a Predictor of Violent and Nonviolent Collective Action: Evidence From Syrian Refugees and Lebanese Nationals

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Recent research has shown that positive intergroup contact can undermine social change efforts among disadvantaged group members. We extend past this finding by investigating how frequent positive contact relates to both violent and nonviolent collective action, among both advantaged and disadvantaged groups, over and above outgroup attitudes. We examined these links in a survey of Lebanese nationals (advantaged group) and Syrian refugees (disadvantaged group) in the context of a severe economic crisis affecting both groups. We replicated previous research showing that contact predicts outgroup attitudes positively and more strongly among advantaged than among disadvantaged group members. Of importance, we also found evidence suggesting that the relationship between positive contact and collective action may depend on group status and on collective action type. Frequent positive contact reduced nonviolent collective action tendencies among disadvantaged group members but not among advantaged group members. However, more positive frequent contact was linked to lower violence support among both advantaged and disadvantaged group members. These results help shed new light on the potential benefits and limits of intergroup contact as a social change tool.

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