Receptivity to dating and marriage across the religious divide in Northern Ireland: The role of intergroup contact

Paterson, Jenny, Turner, Rhiannon N. and Hodson, Gordon (2019) Receptivity to dating and marriage across the religious divide in Northern Ireland: The role of intergroup contact. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 49 (9). pp. 575-584. ISSN 0021-9029

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Intergroup contact has long been recognized as an important factor in promoting positive intergroup attitudes. However, in operationalizing intergroup attitudes, previous studies have rarely investigated attitudes toward one of the most intimate forms of contact, romantic relationships. In this study (N = 176), we expand the intergroup contact literature to examine the association between intergroup contact and, arguably, a litmus test of intergroup attitudes: receptivity to intergroup romance. We do so in Northern Ireland, a context that is historically and presently characterized by sectarian division and tension between Catholics and Protestants. Our findings reveal that intergroup contact is positively associated with receptivity to both dating and marrying an outgroup member. These associations are mediated by ingroup norms toward outgroup romances. General outgroup attitudes were also found to be positively associated with contact but, in contrast to romantic attitudes, this association was shown, for the first time, to be simultaneously mediated by ingroup norms, anxiety, empathy, and trust. In addition, strength of ingroup identification played a moderating role, with a stronger positive relationship between contact and both romantic and general outgroup attitudes among higher identifiers. The findings highlight the importance of examining attitudes toward intergroup romantic relationships, as well as understanding the different mediating and moderating mechanisms which may account for how contact influences general attitudes and romantic attitudes. In the wake of the UK vote to leave the European Union, they also serve as an important reminder of how intergroup contact can be effective in promoting peace in Northern Ireland.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C800 Psychology
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2019 10:33
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 11:46

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