Neighborhood effects of intergroup contact on change in youth intergroup bias

Christine E. Merrilees, L. K. Taylor, R. Baird, Marcie C. Goeke-Morey, Peter Shirlow, Mark Cummings

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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Intergroup contact plays a critical role in the reduction of prejudice; however there is limited research examining the multiple ways through which contact can impact trajectories of development for adolescents in divided societies. Thus, the goal of the current study was to examine individual- and context-level effects of intergroup contact on change in intergroup bias through adolescence. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to analyze five waves of data from 933 youth (Mage = 15.5, SD = 4.03; Range: 10-20 years old; 52% female, 48% male) living in 38 neighborhoods in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The results suggest that youth increase in bias with age. Adolescents with more frequent intergroup contact increase more quickly, and those who report higher quality of contact increase more slowly. Both frequency and quality of contact at the neighborhood level predicted slower increases in bias across adolescence. The results add to a growing literature that combines social and developmental approaches to understanding how intergroup processes and intergroup divide impact youth development of intergroup attitudes and behaviors. The results are discussed in terms of the importance of both individual experiences and the context of intergroup contact for youth development in divided contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Early online date05 May 2017
Publication statusEarly online date - 05 May 2017


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