Effects of Past and Present Intergroup Communication on Perceived Fit of an Outgroup Member and Desire for Future Intergroup Contact

James T Harwood, Nicholas Joyce, Chien Yu Chen, Stefania Paolini, Jun Xiang, Mark Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examine predictors of outgroup partner “fit” (the extent to which an individual is seen as representative of a group), and whether fit determines generalization from a discrete intergroup communication experience to intentions for future contact with the outgroup. In an experiment, 288 undergraduate students imagined a conversation with an older target who was presented either positively or negatively. The positively valenced older adult was seen as being more representative of older people in general (high fit), and this link was stronger for those with more past positive and fewer past negative communication experiences. Fit moderated the effects of imagined interaction valence on intentions for future intergroup contact. A positive older partner perceived as fitting the category “older people” resulted in greater intention to communicate with older people in the future than a negative partner; individuals who saw their partner as atypical showed the reverse pattern—they were less likely to report intentions for future intergenerational contact after a positive than a negative manipulated interaction. The findings demonstrate that negative intergroup communication can, at times, have positive effects, and positive contact can have negative effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)530-555
Number of pages26
JournalCommunication Research
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

Keywords

  • contact theory
  • contrast effects
  • fit
  • imagined interaction
  • intergenerational relations
  • intergroup communication
  • prototypicality
  • salience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

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