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Abstract

Intergroup anxiety has become important in understanding the success or failure of intergroup contact. In this paper, we suggest that intergroup anxiety is made up from two constructs: self-anxiety (anxiety over thinking or doing something that is prejudiced) and other-anxiety (anxiety that the other might do something to you). Over four studies, we show how these two dimensions have different correlates and independently predict psychophysiological reactivity to an intergroup interaction. Other-anxiety was associated with negative intergroup attitudes and negative affect. In contrast, self-anxiety had no simple relationship with conventional measures of intergroup attitudes but was associated with a flattening of responses that were indicative of freezing (Study 3) and simultaneous approach and avoidance (Study 4). We suggest that whereas other-anxiety is associated with negative affect and avoidance, self-anxiety is associated with ‘freezing’ responses to intergroup interaction. Thus, the distinction between these two constructs has important repercussions. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.