DOI: 10.1111/ajsp.12607 ISSN: 1367-2223

How can previous intergroup contact predict willingness for intergroup interaction? The mediating role of specific intergroup emotions

Lingjie Tang, Chang'an Zhang, Zhifang Liu
  • General Social Sciences
  • Social Psychology


Prior research recognizes intergroup emotions as crucial for intergroup attitudes and interactions, but the psychological mechanisms linking prior intergroup interactions to contact intentions remain incompletely understood. This study investigated the joint effects and interplay of Chinese students' positive and negative contact on behavioural intentions to interact with international students in the future. Six affective variables (fear, anger, anxiety, empathy, happiness, and trust) were tested as mediators. Results revealed that positive contact directly predicted stronger contact willingness and indirectly affected this variable through lower levels of fear, anger, and anxiety and higher levels of empathy, happiness, and trust. Negative contact, however, was negatively associated with positive emotions and contact willingness and predicted more negative emotions. All intergroup emotions played significant mediating roles in the relationship between intergroup contact and willingness for future contact, and anxiety, fear, and trust emerged as robust mediators. Notably, positive contact had larger effects as compared to negative contact. Moreover, no association was observed between negative contact and intergroup emotions when positive contact was frequent. However, when both positive and negative contact were at higher levels, positive contact emerged as a more influential predictor of all intergroup emotions. This research emphasizes examining both positive and negative contact and affective variables as contact mediators, shedding light on enhancing contact intentions.

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