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Reducing interethnic bias through real-life and literary encounters: The interplay between face-to-face and vicarious contact in high school classrooms

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Literary intergroup contact—reading about ingroup members’ encounters with outgroup members—is a useful first step toward the reduction of intergroup bias in settings with limited face-to-face intergroup contact, such as ethnically segregated schools. What, however, happens to this bias-reduction potential of interethnic stories in classrooms rife with face-to-face interactions between ethnically diverse students? And does this interaction between literary and face-to-face contact function similarly 1) for ethnic-majority students and ethnic-minority students and 2) for affective and cognitive measures of interethnic bias? A between-subjects experiment was conducted among 977 students in 63 classrooms in a Belgian province with a history of Moroccan migration. Half of the classes read from a ‘white-Belgian-majority’ book (control group), the others from a ‘Moroccan-Belgian’ book (literary contact group). Multilevel regression analyses indicated two opposing trends: 1) more face-to-face contact with Moroccan classmates strengthened the effect of literary interethnic contact on self-identified Belgian students’ attitude toward Moroccans, but 2) more face-to-face contact with Belgian-majority classmates reduced the effect of literary interethnic contact on the attitude toward Belgians of self-identified non-Belgian students. Moreover, the Moroccan-Belgian book was associated with a lesser awareness of discrimination against Moroccan youngsters for students who did not identify as Belgian in classes with few students of Moroccan descent, and for students who felt (very) Belgian in classes with relatively many students of Moroccan descent. The quality of face-to-face intergroup contact is offered as a post-hoc explanation.
Journal: International Journal of Intercultural Relations
ISSN: 0147-1767
Volume: 63
Pages: 53 - 67
Number of pages: 15
Publication year:2018