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Extending Contact Across Generations: Comparison of Direct and Ancestral Intergroup Contact Effects on Current Attitudes Toward Outgroup Members

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ABSTRACT

There is a growing body of evidence that intergroup relations are affected not only by direct contact with outgroup members, but also by extended contact: the mere knowledge that an ingroup member has a positive relationship with an outgroup. The present article focuses on the transgenerationally transmitted effects of contact, namely the impact of knowledge about ancestors’ contact with outgroup members on descendants’ attitudes toward the outgroup. A correlational study in the Polish–Ukrainian borderland region (N = 288) shows that ancestral intergroup contact – independently from direct intergroup contact – plays a crucial role in the process of improving intergroup attitudes. The mediating mechanisms of perceived similarity of the outgroup to the self and of perspective taking are discussed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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