Indirect contact predicts direct contact: Longitudinal evidence and the mediating role of intergroup anxiety.
Wölfer R., Christ O., Schmid K., Tausch N., Buchallik FM., Vertovec S., Hewstone M.
Although the effects of direct and indirect forms of contact on intergroup relations are well documented, little is known about their longitudinal co-development. Based on the social-psychological literature, we hypothesize that indirect contact predicts future direct contact by reducing intergroup anxiety. Across five longitudinal studies (Study 1: German adults, N = 560; Study 2: German, Dutch, and Swedish school students, N = 6,600; Study 3: Northern Irish children, N = 1,593; Study 4: Northern Irish adults, N = 404; Study 5: German adults, N = 735), we systematically examined this effect, and further tested the mediating role of intergroup anxiety in Studies 3 to 5. Cross-lagged models provided consistent evidence for the positive effect of indirect contact on future direct contact, whereas a reduction in intergroup anxiety mediates this effect in most models. Results highlight the importance of indirect contact, which has the potential to increase direct contact, and thus promote social cohesion in diverse contexts, over time. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).