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The Australian Research Council have awarded Miles Hewstone a four-year grant to investigate the topic ‘Approaching and Avoiding Diversity'.

The project is led by Dr Stefania Paolini, who is based at the School of Psychology at The University of Newcastle, Australia, and involves further collaboration with Professor Jake Harwood from the Department of Communication at the University of Arizona, and Asociate Prof David Neumann from Griffith’s Health Centre at the University of Griffith, Australia.

Extensive research on group desegregation shows that face-to-face interactions between people of opposing groups should be encouraged for harmonious group relations, improved self-esteem, health, and productivity. Yet these benefits are often missed as people actively avoid diversity. The new research will investigate the psychological bases of approach and avoidance of social diversity. The planned research introduces a theoretically- and empirically-grounded typology of diversity approach-avoidance behaviours in order to identify personal and situational determinants of these self-regulatory behaviours and delineate consequences for psychological processes critical to intergroup relations.  The findings will contribute to our understanding of when and why people choose to engage in, or avoid, contact with people who belong to different ethnic and other social groups, and will guide practice on optimal interventions to reduce prejudice.