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Issue 3/2014

Okładka pierwszego numeru czasopisma Psychologia Społeczna

 

Changes in attitudes as a result of participation 
in a student exchange program: The role of intergroup contact 
and threat reduction


Anna Stefaniak, Michał Bilewicz



Abstract
The main aims of this study were to explore the ways in which intergroup contact influences attitudes towards outgroups and to elucidate possible interrelations between different kinds of intergroup threat as posited by the Integrated Threat Theory (Stephan & Stephan, 2000). To this effect we carried out a longitudinal study among Polish university students who participated in the international student exchange program Erasmus (N=77) and spent a limited period of time in the Western European countries with significant Muslim minorities. The students displayed a significant increase in intergroup contact and their attitudes towards Muslims improved significantly. Experiencing intergroup contact led to lower intergroup anxiety, which in turn reduced perceptions of symbolic threat thus leading to more positive intergroup attitudes. This result corroborates Eysenck’s work on the relation between intergroup anxiety and cognitive biases (2000).

Keywords: Contact hypothesis; intergroup anxiety; social distance; symbolic threat; Muslims

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