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Secondary transfer effects (STEs) of intergroup contact refer to the generalization of contact effects from a primary encountered outgroup to attitudes towards secondary outgroups (Pettigrew, 2009). Using two large, cross-sectional data sets from Germany (N = 1,381) and Northern Ireland (N = 1,948), this article examined the extent to which STEs of intergroup contact on attitudes towards a range of secondary outgroups occur via a previously unexplored psychological construct, social identity complexity (operationalized as similarity complexity and overlap complexity). Study 1 found primary outgroup contact to be associated with greater similarity complexity, but no indirect effects on secondary outgroup attitudes via complexity emerged. Study 2, however, revealed indirect positive relationships between primary outgroup contact and secondary outgroup attitudes via increased similarity complexity and overlap complexity. These relationships were obtained while controlling for two previously tested mediating mechanisms, attitude generalization (operationalized as primary outgroup attitude) and deprovincialization (operationalized as ingroup attitude and identification). We discuss the theoretical implications of these findings and the contribution of social identity complexity to understanding processes underlying STEs of contact.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Soc Psychol

Publication Date





443 - 462


attitude generalization, deprovincialization, intergroup contact, secondary transfer effects, social identity complexity, Adult, Attitude, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Germany, Group Processes, Homosexuality, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Northern Ireland, Roma, Russia, Social Behavior, Social Identification, Social Perception, Transfer (Psychology), Turkey