A large-scale test of the link between intergroup contact and support for social change

Tabea Hässler*, Johannes Ullrich, Michelle Bernardino, Nurit Shnabel, Colette Van Laar, Daniel Valdenegro, Simone Sebben, Linda R. Tropp, Emilio Paolo Visintin, Roberto González, Ruth K. Ditlmann, Dominic Abrams, Hema Preya Selvanathan, Marija Branković, Stephen Wright, Jorina von Zimmermann, Michael Pasek, Anna Lisa Aydin, Iris Žeželj, Adrienne PereiraNóra Anna Lantos, Mario Sainz, Andreas Glenz, Hana Oberpfalzerová, Michal Bilewicz, Anna Kende, Olga Kuzawinska, Sabine Otten, Edona Maloku, Masi Noor, Pelin Gul, Jessica Pistella, Roberto Baiocco, Margareta Jelic, Evgeny Osin, Orly Bareket, Dinka Corkalo Biruski, Jonathan E. Cook, Maneeza Dawood, Lisa Droogendyk, Angélica Herrera Loyo, Kaltrina Kelmendi, Luiza Mugnol Ugarte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Guided by the early findings of social scientists, practitioners have long advocated for greater contact between groups to reduce prejudice and increase social cohesion. Recent work, however, suggests that intergroup contact can undermine support for social change towards greater equality, especially among disadvantaged group members. Using a large and heterogeneous dataset (12,997 individuals from 69 countries), we demonstrate that intergroup contact and support for social change towards greater equality are positively associated among members of advantaged groups (ethnic majorities and cis-heterosexuals) but negatively associated among disadvantaged groups (ethnic minorities and sexual and gender minorities). Specification-curve analysis revealed important variation in the size—and at times, direction—of correlations, depending on how contact and support for social change were measured. This allowed us to identify one type of support for change—willingness to work in solidarity— that is positively associated with intergroup contact among both advantaged and disadvantaged group members.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-386
Number of pages7
JournalNature Human Behaviour
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project received direct financial support through the Swiss Bilateral Programme of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation awarded to J.U., R.G., T.H., M.Bernadino and D.V. The Chilean research team was supported by Fondecyt (grant no. 1161371), the Center for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (grant no. FONDAP 15130009) and the Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Research (grant no. FONDAP 15110006) awarded to R.G. The Dutch part of this research was funded by FWO Odysseus grant no. G.O.E66.14N awarded to C.L. The English part of this research was funded by the ESRC commissioning grant no. 403006662 awarded to D.A. and G.T. S.W. was funded by a grant from the Social Science & Humanities Research Council of Canada. I.Ž. was funded by the Serbian Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development (grant no. 179018). The Polish part of this research was funded by the Foundation for Polish Science (TEAM), co-financed by the EU ERDF (‘Language as a Cure’ Project) awarded to M.Bilewicz and O.K. E.O. was supported by the HSE University Basic Research Programme and the Russian Academic Excellence Project ‘5–100’. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. We thank L. Liekefett, D. Kokdemir, D. Indreica, A. Figueiredo, N. Mühlemann and Y. Koc for their additional help with the translation and/or data collection. We also thank J. Ginges and L. Eisner for their insightful comments. Finally, we thank the SoSci Panel, PlanetRomeo, East meets West, Psychologie Heute and all other LGBTIQ+ organizations for distributing our survey.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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