Intergroup contact represents a powerful way to improve intergroup attitudes and to overcome prejudice and discrimination. However, long-term effects of intergroup contact that consider social network dynamics have rarely been studied at a young age. Study 1 validated an optimized social network approach to investigate intergroup contact (N = 6,457; Mage = 14.91 years). Study 2 explored the developmental trajectories of intergroup contact by applying this validated network approach in a cross-sequential design (four-cohort-four-wave; N = 3,815; 13-26 years). Accelerated growth curve models showed that contact predicts the development of attitudes in adolescence, whereas acquired attitudes buffer against decreasing contact in adulthood. Findings highlight the potential of social network analysis and the developmental importance of early intergroup contact experiences.
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Adolescent, Adult, Attitude, Cohort Studies, Europe, Female, Friends, Group Processes, Human Development, Humans, Male, Models, Psychological, Social Support, Young Adult