Intergroup Contact, Acculturation, and Immigrant-Host Relations


Rupert Brown (Sussex University), Cecilia Cordeu (Sussex University), & Linda Tip (Sussex University)

Immigrant acculturation attitudes, contact, well-being and intergroup attitudes

In this paper, I will present results from two recently completed longitudinal studies that sought to investigate relationships between acculturation preferences, contact and well-being, using the well known theory of Berry (1997) as an orienting framework. The first study is of immigrant children to Chile (N = 212, ages 8 to 15 years), where the focus was on both the children’s own acculturation attitudes and the discrepancies between their attitudes and those of their parents as predictors of well-being one year later. In general, acculturation preferences that combined both a desire to maintain heritage culture and a desire to adopt the majority culture of the receiving society positively predicted well-being. Discrepancies between children and parent, however, were also related to children’s well-being although the valence of those associations depended on the direction of the child-parent discrepancies. The second study was of resettled refugees (N = 280) living in three British cities, studied over an 18-month period. Again, the primary predictors were acculturation preferences, to which we also added measures of actual contact with majority group members. Outcome variables were well-being, and also intergroup attitudes towards the British majority group. Results showed several cross-sectional and longitudinal links between acculturation preferences, contact, and intergroup attitudes. In general, however, and in contrast to the Chilean study, there were few longitudinal associations between acculturation preferences and well-being. I will attempt to use these findings to show how the acculturation and contact literatures can be profitably integrated, developing an argument made in an earlier contribution (Brown & Zagefka, 2011). Some policy implications of the research will also be spelt out.


Patrick Kotzur (Philipps-University of Marburg), Sarina Schäfer (Fernuniversität Hagen), & Ulrich Wagner (Philipps-University of Marburg)

On the relationship between contact with asylum seekers and attitudes towards asylum seekers and an initial reception centre in the neighbourhood

Due to the heightened numbers of asylum seekers arriving in Europe last year, new housing fit for the initial reception of the newcomers had to be set up swiftly. However, neighbours of planned accommodation sites are frequently sceptical towards and resist the establishment of housing for asylum seekers in their neighbourhoods. More than 900 committed crimes against asylum seeker shelters and 1600 right-wing crimes in the context of asylum seeker housing in Germany last year illustrate the aversion directed against refugees present in parts of the German population. The contact theory proposes that the negative attitude towards planned reception centres and its residents may be reduced by positive contact with asylum seekers once they take up quarters. In Study 1, we report experimental evidence using a between-subject design with a German student sample that positive contact with an asylum seeker (N=35) compared to an ingroup member (N=39) improves attitudes towards asylum seekers in general, reduces negative emotions and action tendencies, while enhancing positive action tendencies towards asylum seekers. In Study 2, we report empirical findings of a longitudinal field study on attitudes towards initial reception centres of autochthonous residents living in the neighbourhood of an established (NT1=62) and a recently opened initial reception centre (NT1=120) in Hesse, Germany. The study’s data were collected before the steep rise of arriving asylum seekers (Wave 1: April/May 2015), close to the climax (Wave 2: September/October 2015) and when numbers of asylum seekers levelled off just before the EU-Turkey refugee deal (Wave 3: February/March 2016). We present results on the relationship between positive and negative contact experiences, emotional reactions, as well as attitudes towards asylum seekers and the reception centre in the residents’ neighbourhoods. Analyses show that contact in this conflictual context, in which the theory’s preconditions are not met, is not as fruitful as Study 1 would have suggested.



Roberto González (P. Universidad Católica de Chile), Rupert Brown (University of Sussex), Jorge Manzi (P. Universidad Católica de Chile), Siugmin Lay (University of Royal Holloway), Tabea Hässler (University of Zurich), Daniel Miranda (P. Universidad Católica de Chile), Hanna Zagefka (University of Royal Holloway), Brian Lickel (University of Massachusetts) & Linda Tropp (University of Massachusetts)

Longitudinal consequences of direct and extended contact: The role of perceived in-group norms in developing acculturation preferences among majority host members

There is no doubt that human migration has become one of the most visible and relevant social issues in recent decades (at about. 3.2% of the world’s popula­tion, over 232 million people, are defined as immigrants; United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2013). Such massive migration flows inevitably bring members of different groups into contact with one another and such encounters will often require groups – both the migrant groups and those in the receiving society – to overcome several challenges. Immigrants will often need to learn about a new culture, probably develop a new social identity and, in some cases, face discrimination in social environments that are not always welcoming. Majority members are often confronted by groups with different cultural backgrounds and practices, which they may perceive as threating to their social identities. Within social psychology, this process is called acculturation, the manifold ways in which members of different cultures mutually influence and accommodate to each other (Brown & Zagefka, 2011). Though there has been a growth of acculturation research in different cultural contexts, there are still some important research gaps. First, the vast majority of acculturation studies have been concerned with consequences of acculturation preferences (e.g. positive health outcomes, positive intergroup attitudes) rather than their antecedents (Sam & Berry, 2010). Second, most research has focused attention on the immigrants’ acculturation preferences; however, it seems obvious that majority members might also have expectations about how immigrants should live in the country (Berry, 1997; González et al., 2010; Piontkowski, et al., 2000). Even though this issue has been highlighted as theoretically important, there is still more research on immigrants’ acculturation preferences than of majority members, even though the latter are able to exert a decisive influence over the nature of intergroup relations in a society due to their greater numerical size and political power. Third, despite the close conceptual relationships that exist between Acculturation Theory (e.g., Berry, 1997) and Intergroup Contact Theory (Allport, 1954; Brown & Hewstone, 2005), the integration between these two lines of work has only recently received attention (e.g., Brown & Zagefka, 2011; Van Acker & Vanbeselaere, 2011). Finally, the vast majority of acculturation research has focused, not surprisingly, on immigration contexts in North America and Europe. However, as Henrich, Heine and Norenzayan (2010) have persuasively argued, not everyone is so WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic).

We ought to reduce these gaps by presenting two longitudinal studies conducted in Chile that explore the effect of both direct and extended contact on the development of acculturation preferences of majority members over time. Assuming that the acculturation preferences can be considered as attitudinal constructs, and that actual contact and the contact acculturation preferences are conceptually related, we expected direct contact to be particularly relevant to explain the acculturation contact link. We reasoned that the more majority members have immigrant friends, the more they would desire them to have contact with them. Cross-group friendship was then expected to motivate members of the majority to continue their relationships and foster positive expectations for future contact (Binder et at., 2009; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006). However, direct and extended contact may affect intergroup relations through different pathways. Affective processes may mediate both direct and extended contact effects (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2008), yet extended contact may be particularly associated with changes in perceived norms (De Tezanos-Pinto et al., 2009). Thus, we also study how perceived ingroup norms mediate the effects of extended cross-group friendship on acculturation preferences. These two longitudinal studies involving Chilean school students (Study 1 N = 654 and Study 2 N = 475) were conducted to test predictions using structural equation modelling. As predicted, the results revealed that extended contact longitudinally predicted changes on acculturation preferences of Majority members (Cultural maintenance and desire for contact) by changing perceived ingroup norms. Direct cross group friendship on the other hand predicted changes but on the acculturation contact dimension only. Finally, as predicted, extended contact resulted to be a precursor of cross-group friendship development over time (Study2). The results provided evidence about the dynamic and cumulative process underlying changes in acculturation preferences from the majority group’s perspective. Conceptual as well as practical implications are discussed in the paper.