Eller, A., Abrams, D., Wright, S., & Davies, B. (2020). Effects of intergroup contact and relative gratification vs. deprivation on prejudice on both sides of the U.S./Mexico status divide. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. doi:10.1111/jasp.12669
A study in the U.S.–Mexican intergroup context examined how collective relative gratification (RG) versus deprivation affects the relationship between intergroup contact and interpersonal closeness and subtle prejudice towards an out‐group. Participants were Mexican university students in Mexico (N = 239) and non‐Mexican students in California (N = 90). As predicted, Mexicans experienced less gratification/higher relative deprivation (RD), and low quality intergroup contact and expressed lower interpersonal closeness and higher subtle prejudice than U.S. Americans. Differences between countries were larger amongst participants reporting higher RD. Second‐stage moderated mediation analysis showed that the mediating effects of contact between country and interpersonal closeness and subtle prejudice, respectively, were larger amongst participants who felt relatively gratified than those who felt relatively deprived. These findings underline the importance of recognizing the moderating effect of differences in the RG versus RD levels of minority and majority groups when anticipating the potential benefits of intergroup contact for prejudice reduction.
Bratt, C., Abrams, D., & Swift, H. (2020). Supporting the Old but Neglecting the Young? The Two Faces of Ageism. Developmental Psychology. doi:10.1037/dev0000903
Ageism is the most prevalent form of prejudice and is experienced by both older and younger people. Little is known about whether these experiences are interdependent or have common origins. We analyze data from 8,117 older (aged 70 and over) and 11,647 younger respondents (15–29 years) in representative samples from 29 countries in the European Social Survey. Using multilevel structural equation modeling, we test the hypothesis that older people are less likely, and younger people more likely, to suffer age discrimination if they live in a country with stronger structural support for older people. We also test the hypothesis that although stronger social norm against age discrimination reduce age discrimination suffered by older people it does not inhibit discrimination against younger people. These hypotheses are supported, and the results underline the neglected problem of ageism toward youth. Findings highlight that strategies for reducing age prejudice must address ageism as a multigenerational challenge, requiring attention to intergenerational cohesion and resource distribution between ages.
Hässler, T., Ullrich, J., Bernardino, M., Shnabel, N., Laar, C., Valdenegro, D., Sebben, S., Tropp, L., Visintin, E., González, R., Ditlmann, R., Abrams, D., Selvanathan, H., Branković, M., Wright, S., von Zimmermann, J., Pasek, M., Aydin, A., Žeželj, I., Pereira, A., Lantos, N., Sainz, M., Glenz, A., Oberpfalzerová, H., Bilewicz, M., Kende, A., Kuzawinska, O., Otten, S., Maloku, E., Noor, M., Gul, P., Pistella, J., Baiocco, R., Jelic, M., Osin, E., Bareket, O., Biruski, D., Cook, J., Dawood, M., Droogendyk, L., Loyo, A., Kelmendi, K., & Ugarte, L. (2020). A large-scale test of the link between intergroup contact and support for social change. Nature Human Behaviour. doi:10.1038/s41562-019-0815-z
Guided by the early findings of social scientists, practitioners have long advocated for greater contact between groups to reduce prejudice and increase social cohesion. Recent work, however, suggests that intergroup contact can undermine support for social change towards greater equality, especially among disadvantaged group members. Using a large and heterogeneous dataset (12,997 individuals from 69 countries), we demonstrate that intergroup contact and support for social change towards greater equality are positively associated among members of advantaged groups (ethnic majorities and cis-heterosexuals) but negatively associated among disadvantaged groups (ethnic minorities and sexual and gender minorities). Specification-curve analysis revealed important variation in the size—and at times, direction—of correlations, depending on how contact and support for social change were measured. This allowed us to identify one type of support for change—willingness to work in solidarity— that is positively associated with intergroup contact among both advantaged and disadvantaged group members.
Morais, C., Abrams, D., & Randsley de Moura, G. (2020). Ethics Versus Success? The Acceptance of Unethical Leadership in the 2016 US Presidential Elections. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03089
Before and after the 2016 US Presidential Election, this research examined Trump and Clinton supporters’ attributions about behavior of each leader, both of whose ethicality had been publicly questioned. American voters (N = 268) attributed significantly more dispositional factors to the outgroup leader than to the ingroup leader. Moreover, when the ingroup candidate won the election (i.e., among Trump supporters), unethical leadership subsequently became more acceptable and there was less desire to tighten the election process when dealing with unethical candidates. The opposite pattern was found among voters whose ingroup candidate lost the election (Clinton supporters). The results and implications are discussed.
Abrams, D., Travaglino, G., Grant, P., Templeton, A., Bennett, M., & Lalot, F. (2019). Mobilizing IDEAS in the Scottish Referendum: Predicting voting intention and well‐being with the Identity‐Deprivation‐Efficacy‐Action‐Subjective well‐being model. British Journal of Social Psychology. doi:10.1111/bjso.12355
In the month approaching the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum, we tested the Identity‐Deprivation‐Efficacy‐Action‐Subjective Well‐Being model using an electorally representative survey of Scottish adults (N = 1,156) to predict voting for independence and subjective well‐being. Based on social identity theory, we hypothesized for voting intention that the effects of collective relative deprivation, group identification, and collective efficacy, but not personal relative deprivation (PRD), should be fully mediated by social change ideology. Well‐being was predicted to be associated with PRD (negatively) and group identification (positively and, indirectly, negatively). Unaffected by demographic variables and differences in political interest, nested structural equation model tests supported the model, accounting for 82% of the variance in voting intention and 31% of the variance in subjective well‐being. However, effects involving efficacy depended on its temporal framing. We consider different ways that social identification can simultaneously enhance and diminish well‐being and we discuss ramifications of the model for collective mobilization and separatist nationalism. Findings also suggest new directions for research on social identity, collective efficacy, and collective action.
Van de Vyver, J., Abrams, D., Spinner, L., Pelletier, J., Ali, S., & Kapantai, I. (2019). Participatory arts interventions promote interpersonal and intergroup prosocial intentions in middle childhood. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 65. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2019.101069
We report the results of two experiments which test the potential of arts engagement for promoting prosocial intentions. Experiment 1 (N = 216) tested the impact of a participatory arts intervention (vs. a control condition) on children's empathy and interpersonal prosocial intentions. Experiment 2 (N = 174) tested the impact of a participatory arts intervention (vs. a control condition) on children's prosocial intentions toward outgroup members under competitive and non-competitive conditions. Experiment 1 showed that the participatory arts intervention significantly increased children's interpersonal prosocial intentions, but not their empathy. Experiment 2 showed that, under competitive conditions, the participatory arts intervention significantly increased prosocial intentions toward outgroup members, an effect that persisted for six months beyond the intervention. Under non-competitive conditions, the participatory arts intervention consolidated improvements in prosocial intentions toward outgroup members. Overall, the results confirm the hypothesis that participatory arts engagement can promote prosocial intentions during middle childhood.
Travaglino, G., & Abrams, D. (2019). How criminal organisations exert secret power over communities: An intracultural appropriation theory of cultural values and norms. European Review of Social Psychology, 30, 74-122. doi:10.1080/10463283.2019.1621128
Criminal organisations have the ability to exert secret power – governance over the community and inhibition of opposition (omertà). Traditionally, omertà has been attributed to fear or passivity. Here, a model grounded in different premises, Intracultural Appropriation Theory (ICAT), stresses the central role of culture in sustaining relations of domination between groups. Specifically, ICAT contends that non-state agents achieve legitimacy among people by claiming to embody cultural values shared within the community. In the case of Italian organised crime, criminal organisations’ adherence to values of masculine honour bestows legitimacy on their actions, enabling them to exert secret power. We report evidence in support of this proposition, and derive a new formulation of omertà focussing on social identity, emotions and social change beliefs. We suggest that the theory contributes to a new perspective for the analysis of culture, political action, and honour, and that it should generalise in other contexts and countries.
Player, A., Randsley de Moura, G., Leite, A., Abrams, D., & Tresh, F. (2019). Overlooked Leadership Potential: The Preference for Leadership Potential in Job Candidates Who Are Men vs. Women. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 755. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00755
Two experiments tested the value people attach to the leadership potential and leadership performance of female and male candidates for leadership positions in an organizational hiring simulation. In both experiments, participants (Total N = 297) valued leadership potential more highly than leadership performance, but only for male candidates. By contrast, female candidates were preferred when they demonstrated leadership performance over leadership potential. The findings reveal an overlooked potential effect that exclusively benefits men and hinders women who pursue leadership positions that require leadership potential. Implications for the representation of women in leadership positions and directions for future research are discussed.
Mahmood, L., Abrams, D., Meleady, R., Hopthrow, T., Lalot, F., Swift, H., & Van de Vyver, J. (2019). Intentions, efficacy, and norms: The impact of different self-regulatory cues on reducing engine idling at long wait stops. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 66, 101368. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2019.101368
Idling engines contribute significantly to air pollution and health problems. In a field study at a busy railway crossing we used the Theory of Planned Behavior to design persuasive messages to convince car drivers (N = 442) to turn off their engines during long wait stops. We compared the effects of three different messages (focusing on outcome efficacy, normative reputation, or reflection on one's intentions) against a baseline condition. With differing effectiveness, all three messages had a positive effect compared with the baseline. Drivers were most likely to turn off their engines when the message focused on outcome efficacy (49%) or reflection (43%), as compared to the baseline (29%). The increased compliance in the normative reputation condition (38%) was not significantly different from baseline. Thus, stimulating self-regulatory processes, particularly outcome efficacy, is demonstrated to have a positive effect on pro-environmental driving behavior. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Player, A., Abrams, D., Van de Vyver, J., Meleady, R., Leite, A., Randsley de Moura, G., & Hopthrow, T. (2018). “We aren’t idlers”: Using subjective group dynamics to promote prosocial driver behaviour at long-wait stops. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 48, 643-648. doi:10.1111/jasp.12554
Idling engines are a substantial air pollutant which contribute to many health and environmental problems. In this field experiment (N = 419) we use the subjective group dynamics framework to test ways of motivating car drivers to turn off idle engines at a long wait stop where the majority leave their engines idling. One of three normative messages (descriptive norm, in-group prescriptive deviance, outgroup prescriptive deviance) was displayed when barriers were down at a busy railway level-crossing. Compared to the baseline, normative messages increased the proportion of drivers that turned off their engines. Consistent with subjective group dynamics theory, the most effective approach was to highlight instances of in-group prescriptive deviance (47% stopped idling, compared with 28% in the baseline). Implications for health and environmental outcomes and future research are discussed.
Christian, J., Nayyar, D., Riggio, R., & Abrams, D. (2018). Them and us: Did Democrat inclusiveness and Republican solidarity lead to the 2016 US presidential election outcome?. Leadership, 174271501879373. doi:10.1177/1742715018793733
This research examined the role that group dynamics played in the 2016 US presidential election. Just prior to the election, participants were assessed on perceived self-similarity to group members’ views, perception of own leader’s prototypicality, perceptions of social values, and strength of support (attitudes). Results indicated that Democrats were more inclusive, seeing more similarity between themselves and members from the outgroup political party, while Republicans displayed more ingroup solidarity and negative attitudes toward outgroup members. Trump was viewed as a more prototypical leader by Republicans than Clinton was by Democrats. These results may help to explain the perhaps surprising fragility of Democrat voters’ support for Clinton.
Marques, S., Mariano, J., Lima, M., & Abrams, D. (2018). Are you talking to the future me? The moderator role of future self-relevance on the effects of aging salience in retirement savings. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 48, 360-368. doi:10.1111/jasp.12516
Increasing the salience of aging has been shown to be a promising strategy to promote young adults' interest in saving for retirement. However, the processes responsible for this effect are still largely unknown. We hypothesize that increased savings choices will only occur when participants are also engaged in self?relevant thoughts about their own future. Participants were exposed to a fictitious website advertising financial products. Study 1 (n?=?78; Mage?=?20.87) primed age salience and future self?relevance orthogonally and showed that priming aging only caused increases in retirement investment decisions when self?relevance was also high. Study 2 (n?=?91; Mage?=?23.40) tested whether the effects of age priming were due specifically to age or to a broader focus on the future. The study confirmed that investment decision effects are specific to exposure to the aging prime and not merely priming the future. The effects were also specific to investment in retirement funds and not just depositing money in a checking account. These findings have both theoretical and practical implications for the psychology of aging and retirement planning.
Yetkili, O., Abrams, D., Travaglino, G., & Giner-Sorolla, R. (2018). Imagined contact with atypical outgroup members that are anti-normative within their group can reduce prejudice. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 76, 208-219. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2018.02.004
Can imagining contact with anti-normative outgroup members be an effective tool for improving intergroup relations? Extant theories predict greatest prejudice reduction following contact with typical outgroup members. In contrast, using subjective group dynamics theory, we predicted that imagining contact with anti-normative outgroup members canpromote positive intergroup attitudes because these atypical members potentially reduce intergroup threat and reinforce ingroup norms. In Study 1 (N = 79) when contact was imagined with an anti-normative rather than a normative outgroup member, that member was viewed as less typical and the contact was less threatening. Studies 2 (N = 47) and 3 (N = 180), employed differing methods, measures and target groups, and controlled for the effects of direct contact. Both studies showed that imagined contact with anti-normative outgroup members promoted positive attitudes to the outgroup, relative both to a no contact control condition and (in Study 3) to a condition involving imagined contact with an ingroup antinormative member. Overall, this research offers new practical and theoretical approaches to prejudice reduction.
Abrams, D., & Travaglino, G. (2018). Immigration, political trust, and Brexit - Testing an aversion amplification hypothesis. British Journal of Social Psychology, 57, 310-326. doi:10.1111/bjso.12233
A few weeks prior to the EU referendum (23rd June 2016) two broadly representative samples of the electorate were drawn in Kent (the south-east of England, N = 1,001) and Scotland (N = 1,088) for online surveys that measured their trust in politicians, concerns about acceptable levels of immigration, threat from immigration, European identification, and voting intention. We tested an aversion amplification hypothesis that the impact of immigration concerns on threat and identification would be amplified when political trust was low. We hypothesized that the effect of aversion amplification on voting intentions would be mediated first by perceived threat from immigration, and then by (dis) identification with Europe. Results in both samples were consistent with this hypothesis and suggest that voters were most likely to reject the political status quo (choose Brexit) when concerns that immigration levels were too high were combined with a low level of trust in politicians.
Abrams, D., Travaglino, G., Marques, J., Pinto, I., & Levine, J. (2018). Deviance Credit: Tolerance of Deviant Ingroup Leaders is Mediated by their Accrual of Prototypicality and Conferral of their Right to be Supported. Journal of Social Issues, 74, 36-55. doi:10.1111/josi.12255
Leaders often deviate from group norms or social conventions, sometimes innovating and sometimes engaging in serious transgressions or illegality. We propose that group members are prone to be more permissive toward both forms of deviance in the case of ingroup leaders compared to other ingroup members or outgroup members and leaders. This granting of ‘deviance credit’ is hypothesized to be underpinned by perceptions of an ingroup leader’s prototypicality of the group (‘accrual’) and belief that occupancy of the role confers a right to be supported (‘conferral’). Analyses of data from four studies demonstrate that both accrual and conferral (a) mediate evaluations, inclusion and punishment of deviant leaders, and (b) they make independent contributions to deviance credit. Implications for leadership, marginalization, corruption, innovation and transformation are discussed.
Van de Vyver, J., Abrams, D., Hopthrow, T., Purewal, K., Randsley de Moura, G., & Meleady, R. (2018). Motivating the selfish to stop idling: Self-interest cues can improve environmentally relevant driver behaviour. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 54, 79-85. doi:10.1016/j.trf.2018.01.015
Air pollution has a huge and negative impact on society, and idling engines are a major contributor to air pollution. The current paper draws on evolutionary models of environmental behaviour to test whether appeals to self-interest can encourage drivers to turn off their engines at long wait stops. Using an experimental design, drivers were shown one of three self-interest appeals (financial, health, kin) while waiting at a congested level-crossing site in the UK. Results showed that all three self-interest appeals increased the chances of drivers turning off their engines compared to the control condition. Specifically, drivers were approximately twice as likely to turn off their engines in the self-interest conditions (39–41% compliance) compared to drivers in the control condition (22% compliance). Thus, self-interest motives can be effective for promoting pro-environmental behavioural compliance. Theoretical and applied implications of this research are discussed.
Van de Vyver, J., Leite, A., Abrams, D., & Palmer, S. (2018). Brexit or Bremain? A Person and Social Analysis of Voting Decisions in the EU Referendum. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 28, 65-79. doi:10.1002/casp.2341
The period following the UK’s EU referendum in 2016 foreshadows significant social and political change in the UK. The current research draws on social psychological theories to empirically examine the drivers of voting decisions during the referendum. We report the results of a prospective study using structural equation modelling with data (N = 244) collected just before, and self-reported voting behavior immediately following (N = 197), the EU referendum. We employ a person and social approach to examine the additive roles of worldview, conservatism, social identity, and intergroup threat as predictors of voting intentions and behavior. Results showed that person factors (worldview and conservatism) predicted voting intentions through social factors (European identity and realistic threat), and that intentions predicted behavior. The results highlight the importance of addressing threat-based intergroup rhetoric, and the potential of common ingroup identity to mitigate psychological threat.
Bratt, C., Abrams, D., Swift, H., Vauclair, C., & Marques, S. (2017). Perceived Age Discrimination Across Age in Europe: From an Ageing Society to a Society for All Ages. Developmental Psychology, 54, 167-180. doi:10.1037/dev0000398
Ageism is recognized as a significant obstacle to older people’s well-being, but age discrimination against younger people has attracted less attention. We investigate levels of perceived age discrimination across early to late adulthood, using data from the European Social Survey (ESS), collected in 29 countries (N = 56,272). We test for approximate measurement invariance across countries. We use local structural equation modeling as well as moderated nonlinear factor analysis to test for measurement invariance across age as a continuous variable. Using models that account for the moderate degree of noninvariance, we find that younger people report experiencing the highest levels of age discrimination. We also find that national context substantially affects levels of ageism experienced among older respondents. The evidence highlights that more research is needed to address ageism in youth and across the life span, not just old adulthood. It also highlights the need to consider factors that differently contribute to forms of ageism experienced by people at different life stages and ages.
Van de Vyver, J., & Abrams, D. (2017). The Arts as a Catalyst for Human Prosociality and Cooperation. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9, 664-674. doi:10.1177/1948550617720275
We tested the hypothesis that engagement in the arts may act as a catalyst that promotes prosocial cooperation. Using “Understanding Society” data (a nationally representative longitudinal sample of 30,476 people in the UK), we find that beyond major personality traits, demographic variables, wealth, education, and engagement in other social activity (sports), people’s greater engagement with the arts predicts greater prosociality (volunteering and charitable giving) over a period of 2 years. The predictive effect of prosociality on subsequent arts engagement is significantly weaker. The evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that the arts provide an important vehicle for facilitating a cohesive and sustainable society. Fostering a society in which engagement in the arts is encouraged and accessible to all may provide an important counter to economic, cultural, and political fracture and division.
Abrams, D., & Hogg, M. (2017). Twenty years of group processes and intergroup relations research: A review of past progress and future prospects. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 20, 561-569. doi:10.1177/1368430217709536
The 20th anniversary of Group Processes & Intergroup Relations offers an opportunity to reflect on progress in research. We describe the changing context of research and the scope and progress in the field. This special issue includes reviews by distinguished scholars in the areas of social identity, ideology, crowds, intergroup contact, crossed and multiple social categorization, communication, majority– minority conflict, group-based emotion, group decision making, group performance, ostracism, and social-cognitive development. Achievements and current knowledge in all of these areas are raising significant new questions, challenges, and opportunities for future research, strongly demonstrating the growing scientific strength and societal relevance of research in group processes and intergroup relations.
Travaglino, G., Abrams, D., & Russo, G. (2017). Dual Routes from Social Identity to Collective Opposition against Criminal Organisations: Intracultural Appropriation Theory and the roles of Honour Codes and Social Change Beliefs. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 20, 317-332. doi:10.1177/1368430216682351
Italian criminal organisations (COs) are a serious global threat. Intracultural Appropriation Theory (ICAT) holds that such groups exploit cultural codes of masculinity and honour to legitimise and lower resistance to their actions. Such codes are an important feature of Southern Italian group membership. A large survey (N = 1173) investigated the role of two previously under-examined facets of honour cultures – personal concerns for reputation, and female honour ideology. In addition, drawing on social identity theory, and testing a dual route hypothesis, this research investigated the role of beliefs about the necessity of social change in the articulation between identification, honour, and collective action intentions. Consistent with ICAT, and with previous research, male-honour related values uniquely predicted collective action intentions against criminal organisations. In addition, consistent with the dual route hypothesis: a) regional identification positively predicted social change beliefs which in turn explained stronger intentions to oppose COs collectively, and, b) regional identification was also positively associated with masculine honour which in turn predicted weaker intentions to oppose COs. The evidence supports the idea that social identity can have opposing effects on collective action in the same context, depending on which beliefs are mobilised.
Eller, A., Abrams, D., & Koschate, M. (2017). Can stateways change folkways? Longitudinal tests of the interactive effects of intergroup contact and categorization on prejudice. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 72, 21-31. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2017.04.005
This research examined how a predictable change in the social structure over time (from segregated to integrated) can affect the way intergroup contact and subjective categorization of ingroup and outgroup members (intergroup, superordinate, dual identity) impact on intergroup bias. A three-stage longitudinal study was conducted with six-month intervals (Ns = 708, 435, 418) involving high school students in Germany. Time 1 (T1) was characterized by structural segregation and Times 2 and 3 (T2, T3) by structural integration. Longitudinal analysis between T1 and T2 showed that intergroup categorization (but not superordinate categorization or dual identity) improved intergroup relations. Between T2 and T3, dual identity reduced intergroup bias and marginally increased interpersonal closeness whereas superordinate categorization increased bias and reduced interpersonal closeness. There were no effects of intergroup categorization between T2 and T3. Overall, positive effects of contact increased over time, reaching significance from T2 to T3, supporting a consolidation hypothesis and intergroup contact theory more widely. These findings are also consistent with a congruence hypothesis that the impact of intergroup contact is partly determined by the match between how people categorize ingroup and outgroup members and the social structure that frames intergroup relations.
Tappin, B., McKay, R., & Abrams, D. (2017). Choosing the right level of analysis: Stereotypes shape social reality via collective action. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40. doi:10.1017/S0140525X1500240X
In his 2012 book Jussim argues that the self-fulfilling prophecy and expectancy effects of descriptive stereotypes are not potent shapers of social reality. However, his conclusion that descriptive stereotypes per se do not shape social reality is premature and overly reductionist. We review evidence that suggests descriptive stereotypes do have a substantial influence on social reality, by virtue of their influence on collective action.
Abrams, D., Houston, D., Van de Vyver, J., & Vasiljevic, M. (2017). Does Terror Defeat Contact? Intergroup Contact and Prejudice Toward Muslims Before and After the London Bombings. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 23, 260-268. doi:10.1037/pac0000167
Allport (1954) proposed a series of preconditions that have subsequently been shown to facilitate effects of intergroup contact on attitudes toward outgroups (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006). The present study examines whether objective threat, in the form of the 2005 London 7/7 terror attack, can inhibit the positive effects of contact. We tested hypotheses that contact would affect prejudice toward Muslims regardless of the bombings (contact prevails) or that the bombings would inhibit the effects of contact on prejudice (threat inhibits). Data were collected through representative national surveys 1 month before and again 1 month after the attacks in London on July 7, 2005 (pre-7/7 N = 931; post-7/7 N = 1,100), which represent relatively low and relatively high salience of “objective threat.” Prejudice against Muslims significantly increased following the bombings. Psychological threats to safety (safety threat) and to customs (symbolic threat) mediated the impact of the bombings on prejudice, whereas perceived economic threat did not. All 3 types of psychological threat mediated between contact and prejudice. Multigroup structural equation modeling showed that, even though the objective threat did raise levels of psychological threats, the positive effects of contact on prejudice through perceived psychological threats persisted. Results therefore support a contact prevails hypothesis.
Meleady, R., Abrams, D., Van de Vyer, J., Hopthrow, T., Mahmood, L., Player, A., Lamont, R., & Leite, A. (2017). Surveillance or Self-Surveillance? Social Cues Can Increase the Rate of Drivers’ Pro-Environmental Behavior at a Long Wait Stop. Environment and Behavior, 49, 1156-1172. doi:10.1177/0013916517691324
By leaving their engines idling for long periods, drivers contribute unnecessarily to air pollution, waste fuel, and produce noise and fumes that harm the environment. Railway level crossings are sites where many cars idle, many times a day. In this research, testing two psychological theories of influence, we examine the potential to encourage drivers to switch off their ignition while waiting at rail crossings. Two field studies presented different signs at a busy rail crossing site with a 2-min average wait. Inducing public self-focus (via a “Watching Eyes” stimulus) was not effective, even when accompanied by a written behavioral instruction. Instead, cueing a private-self focus (“think of yourself”) was more effective, doubling the level of behavioral compliance. These findings confirm the need to engage the self when trying to instigate self-regulatory action, but that cues evoking self-surveillance may sometimes be more effective than cues that imply external surveillance.
Grant, P., Bennett, M., & Abrams, D. (2017). Using the SIRDE Model of Social Change to Examine the Vote of Scottish Teenagers in the 2014 Independence Referendum. British Journal of Social Psychology, 56, 455-474. doi:10.1111/bjso.12186
Five hundred and seventy three Scottish high school students were surveyed in the two months following the 2014 referendum on Scotland’s independence. We used the Social Identity, Relative Deprivation, collective Efficacy (SIRDE) model of social change to examine the social psychological factors that should have influenced the voting choices of these teenagers. Structural equation modeling indicated that the SIRDE model fit the data and largely supported four sets of hypotheses derived from the model. Specifically, i) those with a stronger Scottish identity, ii) those who felt frustrated and angry that Scottish people are discriminated against in British society, and iii) those who believed that Scottish people are not able to improve their relatively poor social conditions within the United Kingdom (a lack of collective efficacy) were more likely to hold separatist beliefs. Further, the relationships between identity, relative deprivation, and collective efficacy, on the one hand, and voting for Scotland’s independence, on the other, were fully mediated by separatist social change beliefs. Consistent with the specificity of the model, neither political engagement nor personal relative deprivation were associated with voting choice, whereas the latter was associated with lower life satisfaction. The implications and limitations of these findings are discussed.
Swift, H., Abrams, D., Lamont, R., & Drury, L. (2017). The Risks of Ageism Model: How Ageism and Negative Attitudes toward Age Can Be a Barrier to Active Aging. Social Issues and Policy Review, 11, 195-231. doi:10.1111/sipr.12031
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) active aging framework recognizes that age barriers and ageism need to be removed in order to increase potential for active aging. However, there has been little empirical analysis of ways in which ageism and attitudes toward age impact on active aging. This article sets out the Risks of Ageism Model (RAM) to show how ageism and attitudes toward age can impact the six proposed determinants of active aging via three pathways; (1) stereotype embodiment, the process through which stereotypes are internalized and become self-relevant, (2) stereotype threat, the perceived risk of conforming to negative stereotypes about one’s group, and (3) age discrimination, unfair treatment based on age. Active aging policies are likely to be more successful if they attend to these three pathways when challenging ageism and negative attitudes toward age.
Drury, L., Abrams, D., Swift, H., Lamont, R., & Gerocova, K. (2016). Can Caring Create Prejudice? An Investigation of Positive and Negative Intergenerational Contact in Care Settings and the Generalisation of Blatant and Subtle Age Prejudice to Other Older People. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 27, 65-82. doi:10.1002/casp.2294
Caring is a positive social act, but can it result in negative attitudes towards those cared for, and towards others from their wider social group? Based on intergroup contact theory, we tested whether care workers’ (CWs) positive and negative contact with old-age care home residents (CHRs) predicts prejudiced attitudes towards that group, and whether this generalises to other older people. Fifty-six CWs were surveyed about their positive and negative contact with CHRs and their blatant and subtle attitudes (humanness attributions) towards CHRs and older adults. We tested indirect paths from contact with CHRs to attitudes towards older adults via attitudes towards CHRs. Results showed that neither positive nor negative contact generalised blatant ageism. However, the effect of negative, but not positive, contact on the denial of humanness to CHRs generalised to subtle ageism towards older adults. This evidence has practical implications for management of CWs’ work experiences and theoretical implications, suggesting that negative contact with a subgroup generalises the attribution of humanness to superordinate groups. Because it is difficult to identify and challenge subtle prejudices such as dehumanisation, it may be especially important to reduce negative contact.
Farahar, C. (2019). Contact sans Contact: Investigating a Novel Experiential Intergroup Contact Approach to Reducing Mental Health Stigma.
Mental health stigma and prejudice are longstanding societal problems that require new solutions. One in six adults experience a common mental health problem in a given week (e.g. depression, generalised anxiety, phobias; Stansfeld, et al., 2016), yet the stigmatisation and its consequences are widespread. Despite the efforts of campaigns to reshape public opinion of mental illness (e.g., Time to Change; Time to Change, n.d.), the stigma persists as evidenced in this thesis' introductory Chapter One, Study 1. The challenge is to identify ways that can effectively shift public views. Derived from social psychological theory and methodology and the creative arts, the proposed research builds on work conducted at the Centre for the Study of Group Processes to evaluate an innovative prejudice-reduction method I have developed.
One of the most important social psychological theories of the 20th century is intergroup contact theory, which specifies that direct contact between groups is needed (under the right conditions) in order to reduce prejudice (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006). Extensive research has supported the contact hypothesis and extended contact hypothesis (where only indirect contact is needed). However, direct and extended contact with mental health problem outgroup members is often not possible or counterproductive because of the accompanying stigma. A further implementation of the contact hypothesis, imagined intergroup contact, overcomes the barriers of direct and extended contact, and has been supported by a number of studies (Miles & Crisp, 2014), but is also limited by the narrow scope of contact, weak generalisability outside the lab, and effects that may not be sustained (Brown & Paterson, 2016).
This PhD thesis represents a further step along the continuum of intergroup contact by testing a new contact concept, referred to as Experiential Intergroup Contact (EIC). This approach sits between direct and indirect methods of contact, and is uniquely grounded in theories of intergroup contact, social identity, and experiential role-playing. It is thereby providing a new multi-faceted and interdisciplinary approach to prejudice reduction, and is outlined in detail in Chapter Two. Central to EIC is the idea that simulated contact must shift the boundaries of group identification to create a common identity among people, in addition to engendering positive feelings and attitudes toward outgroup members, in order to produce a sustainable impact on prejudice. Experiential Intergroup Contact does so by implementing a realistic simulation of a more elaborated intergroup context in a format that is readily adapted for different populations. The experiential contact hypothesis proposes that simulated interactions with outgroup members can foster a common group identity and transfer knowledge about outgroup members' experiences, and therefore have a sustained positive impact on stigma and prejudice.
Underpinning EIC is my creation of a story in the form of a script that addresses mental health stigma, entitled Stigmaphrenia©. The story emphasises the positive aspects of being psychologically different and reclassifies mental health status under the umbrella of "neurodiversity". Experiential Intergroup Contact involves reading the Stigmaphrenia© script in a group, with each person taking the perspective of one of the characters in the story. One UK and two US schools have trialled this intervention on a small scale to test feasibility. Verbal reports from key teachers indicate positive impacts on young person's views of mental health. These anecdotal findings and user interest are promising and underscore the urgency for the systematic investigation of EIC.
The main aim for this thesis is to evaluate EIC for reducing mental health stigma and under what conditions it is most likely to be effective. The proposed work is exciting from a social psychological standpoint because it suggests an innovative integrative and interdisciplinary approach to mental health stigma reduction, with strong theoretical and applied implications, and poses new research questions:
Q1: Can EIC reduce mental health stigma?
Q2: Do stigma-reduction outcomes following EIC last?
Q3: By what mechanisms does EIC work?
Six studies attempt to answer these questions. Following the evidence that stigma toward those with mental health problems is still prevalent in Chapter One, Study 1 (N = 154 university students), Chapter Three, Study 2 (N = 84 secondary school pupils) investigates the extent to which the theorised experiential element of Experiential Intergroup Contact outlined in Chapter Two acts as a mediating mechanism. Chapter Four, Study 3 investigates the utility of a neurodiversity superordinate category in effecting stigma - recategorisation - with a crowd sourced population online (N = 146). In Chapter Five, studies 4 and 5 investigate the longitudinality of EICs effects in a school sample (N = 52) and a university sample (N = 89). The final sixth study in Chapter Six (N = 5) qualitatively investigates the longevity of language and behaviour change of past actors as a result of their involvement with the EIC script Stigmaphrenia© in 2013 or 2015.
Findings indicate that there is still work to be done to be able to operationalise Experiential Intergroup Contact with Stigmaphrenia© to reduce mental health stigma, and the general limitations of its investigation and future directions of this novel intergroup contact are detailed in the final Chapter Seven.
Morais, C. (2017). Do Ethics really matter? Understanding group reactions to unethical leadership.
Most research on ethical leadership has disregarded the role of group processes, and particularly of group membership. Using social identity theory of leadership as a framework, this thesis aims to understand the impact of ethical and unethical leaders on group members' perceptions about the leader, as well as to investigate under which circumstances group members may be willing to accept and endorse unethical leaders. To test these ideas, seven experimental studies and one longitudinal study were conducted. Study 1 (N = 90) manipulated whether participants evaluated an ethical or unethical leader, providing empirical support to the idea that unethical leaders have a less positive impact on group members, especially if they belong to the outgroup (N = 129). Study 3 (N = 229) also manipulated target status, showing that unethical behavior displayed by a regular member had a less negative impact when compared to unethical leaders. Study 4 (N = 125) revealed that the intention of behavior is an important factor too, as group members considered the group-promoting leader more prototypical, warmer and competent. Attributions of behavior also changed based on the context (Study 5, N = 226), with leaders' behavior attributed more to internal and stable dispositions in an intragroup (compared to an intergroup) context. Studies 6 and 7 (Ns = 178, 170) extended these findings by showing that attributions were also shaped by the outcome of the behavior to the group. Moreover, leaders who benefited the group (even if they were unethical) were perceived as more competent and more endorsed. Study 8 (N = 260) showed that when the outcome was positive to the group, group members were more willing to accept unethical leadership and to exert less social control. Taken together, the results suggest that leaders play an important role in setting ethical and normative behavior, but also that, under certain circumstances, leaders' ethicality might be overlooked, as long as the behavior is in the group's best interest.
Palmer, S. (2017). Ageism in care home staff: Do staff attitudes towards ageing affect the quality of life of care home residents?.
Ageism is prevalent in health and social care, both in terms of the structure of services, as well as the attitudes and behaviours of professionals (CPA, 2009). This thesis explores the ways in which ageism (i.e. ageist attitudes), manifests in health and social care and the consequences of these for residents in health and social care settings. Specifically, the research explores the factors which are associated with attitudes held by care home staff, and the extent to which these attitudes affect the quality of life of the residents they support.
Two empirical studies were carried out on a sample of 18 care homes, from which attitudinal data was collected from 131 staff, and social care related quality of life (SCRQoL) data from 174 residents. Study 1 looked at the attitudes towards ageing held by staff, in terms of prejudice (feelings towards the elderly outgroup), stereotyping (agreement with ageist statements), and anxiety about own ageing. Drawing on intergroup contact theory, the study found that more negative contact with care home residents was associated with stereotyping, whereas positive contact was related to lower ageing anxiety. Subjective wellbeing and job satisfaction were also predictors of ageing anxiety. Negative outgroup attitudes were related to lower job satisfaction and education level. In line with previous research ageing anxiety was additionally found to mediate the relationship between negative contact and outgroup attitudes.
Study 2 investigated the relationship between the staff attitudes established in study 1, and resident SCRQoL. Multilevel analysis showed that a higher average level of ageing anxiety in staff was related to poorer resident SCRQoL. Dementia diagnoses, resident health, and care home quality were also all significant predictors in the final model.
Implications for care homes are discussed, including the need to negate the effect of negative contact reported by staff, as well as the ageing anxiety felt by staff. Training is identified and explored as a potential intervention.
Spinner, L. (2017). Socialising Gender: The Role of Parents, Peers, and the Media in Children’s Gender-Typed Preferences and Stereotypes.
Within this thesis the environmental factors influencing children's gender-related cognitions are examined. Using multiple methods, the roles of parents, peers, and the media were investigated in relation to children's gender related attitudes and behaviour. The research draws on social learning theory (SLT: Bandura, 1986; Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1961; Mischel 1966), social cognitive theory (SCT: Bussey & Bandura, 1999), social role theory (Eagly, 1987) and cognitive developmental theories of gender development (CDT: Bem, 1981, 1983; Kohlberg, 1966; Martin & Halverson, 1981) to explore how socialising agents in the environment, including children's cognitive selves, contribute to the development of gender-related knowledge and stereotypes. As social cognitive and cognitive developmental theories of gender have evolved they have become more integrative, acknowledging that both cognitive and environmental (as well as biological) factors are important in gender development (Martin, Halverson, & Szkrybalo, 2002). This thesis therefore draws on both approaches to comprehensively examine the role of socialising agents and cognitive processes on children's gender-related cognitions.
Five studies were conducted using varied designs. Studies 1 (Chapter 6) and 2 (Chapter 7) focused on the role of parents in the socialisation of children's gender-related beliefs. Study 1 examined children's and parents' toy preferences and gender stereotypes in relation to toy colour and toy function. Results revealed that both girls and boys preferred toys stereotypic for their own gender in terms of both function and colour, to toys stereotypically associated with the other gender. Parents did not prefer one type of toy over another, but children predicted that their parents would possess the same toy preferences as themselves. Additionally, parents possessed more flexible gender stereotypes than children, and children's gender flexibility scores were negatively related to their gender constancy scores. Parents' reports of children's everyday play on the pre-school activities inventory (PSAI) revealed that boys engage in more masculine-typed play than girls, and boys' PSAI scores were negatively related to preference for feminine-function toys included as stimuli.
Study 2 extended Study 1 by examining parents' and children's explicit and implicit gender stereotypes. As self-report questionnaires can be affected by social desirability, Study 2 employed eye-tracking techniques to examine whether parents and children displayed looking preferences towards masculine- and feminine-typed objects stereotypically associated with the gender of the character in an audio sentence. Findings supported predictions that parents and children would display similar implicit gender biases, but different explicit gender biases. Specifically, both parents and children displayed looking preferences towards the masculine-typed object when the character in the scene was a boy, and preferences toward the feminine-typed object when the character was a girl. This effect was stronger and more sustained in parents than children. However, in response to explicit measures, parents appeared not to endorse the gender stereotypes related to toys, instead appearing egalitarian as they did in Study 1, whilst children's responses were gender-stereotypic.
Studies 3, 4, and 5, focused on the role of peers and the media in gender socialisation. Studies 3 (Chapter 8) and 4 (Chapter 9) examined the prevalence of gender stereotypic information in young children's magazines; a popular media format which has received little research attention. In Study 3, the front covers of children's magazines were analysed to examine the prevalence of gender stereotypic messages. A content analysis was performed on 106 magazine front covers across nine different magazines. Gender stereotypic information was coded in relation to colour schemes, number of male and female characters and character behaviour, and themes advertised. Results revealed that magazines aimed solely at boys or girls were presented in gender-stereotypic colours, girls' magazines contained more female than male characters whilst boys' magazines contained more male than female characters, female characters were more likely to demonstrate passive than active behaviour, and girls' magazine front covers contained no speaking characters. Additionally, the theme of appearance was far more prevalent than the theme of risk on the front of girls' magazines.
Study 4 extended Study 3 by analysing the prevalence of gender stereotypic messages throughout entire magazines issues. A content analysis was undertaken on 42 new issues of the same nine magazines previously examined. Within each magazine, the extensive coding framework analysed the colour scheme, the number of male and female characters, character behaviour, and themes. In addition, how often children were instructed to ask for an adult's help with an activity, and the number of activities identified as educational was coded to examine if this differed according target audience. Key findings were that male characters were more active than female characters, males were more aggressive than females, significantly more activities were explicitly identified as educational in the boys' and neutral magazines compared to the girls' magazines, and instructions to ask for an adult's help were present significantly more in the girls' magazines than in both the boys' and neutral magazines. The themes of fashion and home also appeared significantly more in the girls' than the boys' magazines. Therefore, supporting Study 3, young children's magazines are edited differently in terms of both their style and content depending on whether they are aimed at girls, boys, or both boys and girls, reinforcing gender stereotypes.
Following findings from Studies 3 and 4 that young children's magazines readily depict gender stereotyped content; Study 5 (Chapter 10) aimed to examine the impact of such media on the endorsement of gender-typed attitudes and behaviours. Specifically, the effect of stereotypic and counterstereotypic peer models presented in children's magazines on children's gender flexibility was investigated. Children were exposed to either stereotypic or counterstereotypic models via reader's pages of children's magazines and completed a number of measures of gender flexibility. Results revealed significantly greater gender flexibility around toy play and playmate choice among children in the counterstereotypic condition compared to the stereotypic condition. However, there was no difference in children's own toy preferences between the stereotypic and counterstereotypic condition, with children preferring more gender-typed toys overall. Therefore, the (counter)stereotypic behaviour of peer models presented in children's magazines affects gender flexibility in some domains but not others.
The studies presented within this thesis show strong support for the role that social factors play in children's gender development. Studies 1 and 2 revealed that despite parents' explicit egalitarian views of gender-typed play, children did not predict that their parents would endorse cross-gender-typed play and eye-tracking revealed that parents' implicit gender biases in relation to toys were in fact stronger than their children's. This suggests that parents may be socialising children's gender stereotypes via verbal and/or non-verbal behaviour stemming from their unconscious biases. Studies 1 and 2 also support cognitive developmental theories of gender development in relation to gender schemas (Bem, 1981, 1983) and children's gender-related knowledge (Kohlberg, 1966), and highlight the role of toy colour and function in reinforcing gender stereotypes.
Studies 3 and 4 provide further evidence for the socialisation of children's gender stereotypes via the media. Young children's magazines were found to portray highly gender-typed messages via colour, character behaviour, and themes, which differed according to the target audience, suggesting that children's exposure to these magazines may contribute to the development of gender stereotypes. The findings from these studies support social cognitive theory and social role theory of gender development, and speak to media cultivation theory.
Study 5 uncovered how the behaviour of peer models in children's magazines can differentially affect children's gender flexibility in different domains, again speaking to socialisation theories of gender development, and the importance of exposure to counterstereotypic gender models in increasing gender flexible attitudes. The findings from Study 5 also indicate that children's magazines could be used as a successful basis for future intervention research.
In conclusion, the studies in the present thesis provide strong support for the role of socialising agents in children's gender development. Toys, parents, peer models, and the media have all been shown to portray gender-typed information, and importantly, counterstereotypic models have been shown to encourage greater gender flexibility in children's attitudes. Applying an established eye-tracking paradigm to investigate children and parents' unconscious gender biases for the first time greatly contributes to the literature on implicit gender stereotypes, and the finding that educational activities are promoted significantly more in magazines aimed at boys than girls shows for the first time the impact that this media format may be having on children's aspirations and understanding of gender norms from such a young age. Further implications for theory, marketers, parents, educators, and future research are discussed in Chapter 11.
Drury, L. (2017). Using psychological mechanisms to reduce intergenerational ageism via intergroup contact.
Positive social interaction between members of opposing social groups (intergroup contact) is an effective method of prejudice reduction (Allport, 1954; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006). This thesis explores how intergroup contact theory can be applied to age groups to reduce ageism towards older adults. Chapters 1 to 3 form the theoretical chapters of the thesis. Chapter 1 defines psychological processes underpinning ageism, provides details of its prevalence, outlines its consequences in society, and gives a justification for its reduction. Chapter 2 introduces the psychological processes underpinning intergroup contact theory and its different formations. This is followed by a literature review of intergenerational contact research, which identifies research gaps in the field and research questions addressed in this thesis.
Four empirical chapters then present findings from eight studies. In Chapter 4, Study 1 provides initial correlational evidence of the relationships between direct intergenerational contact, ageism and related psychological processes. Chapter 5 addresses the research question of whether extended contact can be successfully applied to age groups. Studies 2, 3 and 4 provide novel evidence that extended intergenerational contact reduces ageism and is effective via reduced intergroup anxiety, ageing anxiety and ingroup norms. These studies also support prior research demonstrating that direct contact reduces ageism via intergroup and ageing anxieties.
Chapter 6 presents two studies that extend the focus of the thesis to include age stereotypes. Secondary analysis of national survey data in Study 5 explores the perception of older adults' competence across the lifespan and friendships with older adults. The degree to which young and middle-aged adults perceive that competence declines with age is attenuated by having as little as one older friend. Building on these findings, Study 6 explores the relationships between direct and extended intergenerational contact, ageist attitudes and warmth and competence stereotypes. Corroborating Chapter 4, both direct and extended contact predicted reduced ageism and are effective via increased competence stereotypes and increased warmth stereotypes.
In the final empirical chapter in the thesis Chapter 7 presents two studies that explore intergenerational contact theory in applied contexts. Using an experimental design, Study 7 evaluated an intergenerational programme in which students had conversations with older adults about their technology use. Compared to a control group, the experimental group rated older adults as warmer yet more incompetent. However, only warmth and not incompetence stereotypes formed indirect pathways to subsequent attitudes towards older adults more widely. Study 8 examined care workers positively and negatively experienced intergenerational contact with care home residents. Although care workers experienced more positive than negative contact, negative (but not positive) contact was associated with their attitudes towards care home residents and it generalised to older adults more widely. This indirect effect of negative contact to older adults was effective only for subtle and not blatant ageist attitudes.
Overall, the thesis provides a range of evidence suggesting that intergroup contact theory can be successfully applied to the reduction of ageism. It presents a detailed overview of current knowledge, corroborates existing evidence and presents novel findings for extended contact and mediators of both direct and indirect intergenerational contact.