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We tested a model which considered individual-level (intergroup anxiety) and group-level (perceived realistic and symbolic threats to the in-group) threats as simultaneous mediators in the relationship between the quantity and quality of cross-community contact and intergroup attitudes (Study 1, N=166) and trust (Study 2, N=163) in Northern Ireland. The studies tested the hypothesis that the strength of group-identification moderates the importance of individual- vs. group-level threats as predictors of attitudes and trust and as mediators of contact effects. Both anxiety and symbolic threat, but not realistic threat, emerged as predictors of the criterion variables and mediated contact effects. Our results provide support for the moderating role of identification and suggest that while symbolic threat predicts attitudes and trust for high, but not low identifiers, anxiety is a somewhat more important predictor for low than for high identifiers. We discuss these results against the background of current intergroup relations in Northern Ireland.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Soc Psychol

Publication Date





541 - 556


Adaptation, Psychological, Adolescent, Adult, Anxiety, Attitude, Behavioral Research, Catholicism, Female, Humans, Interpersonal Relations, Male, Models, Psychological, Northern Ireland, Peer Group, Protestantism, Religion and Psychology, Social Identification, Surveys and Questionnaires, Trust