Parental and school effects on children's political attitudes in Northern Ireland


Correspondence should be addressed to Professor Maurice Stringer, University of Ulster, Cromore Road, Coleraine, County Londonderry BT52 1SA, UK (email:;



Recent research has suggested that intergroup contacts with out-group members can both reduce prejudice and is associated with attitude change.


This study extends prior work in Northern Ireland to examine parental and schooling effects on children's attitudes in a post-conflict environment.


A large-scale cross-sectional survey of secondary schoolchildren (N = 1,732) and their parents (N = 800) in Northern Ireland assessed the effects of in-school and out-of-school intergroup contacts on intergroup attitudes.


Multivariate analysis of variance was employed to examine associations between children's political attitudes and parental, group membership, school, and contact variables.


The results suggest that parental attitudes, group membership, and cross-group contacts explain the majority of variance (58%) in children's political attitudes. The findings provide a comprehensive account of the factors that influence children's political attitudes within a deeply divided society and offer teachers and educationalists a way to improve community relations in a segregated society.