Examining the role of positive and negative intergroup contact and anti-immigrant prejudice in Brexit

Rose Meleady, Charles Seger, Marieke Vermue

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This study examined the interplay of anti-immigrant prejudice and intergroup contact experience on voting intentions within Britain’s 2016 referendum on its membership within the European Union. In the days before the referendum we asked more than 400 British people how they planned to vote. We measured a number of demographic factors expected to predict voting intentions as well as individuals’ prejudice toward, and intergroup contact experience (positive and negative) with EU immigrants. Anti-immigrant prejudice was a strong correlate of support for Brexit. Negative intergroup contact experience was associated with higher anti-immigrant prejudice and, in turn, increased support for ‘Leave’. Positive intergroup contact, on the other hand, seemed to play a reparative role, predicting lower prejudice and increasing support for ‘Remain’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799–808
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date21 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • prejudice
  • intergroup contact
  • EU referendum
  • voting intentions

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