Specific emotions as mediators of the effect of intergroup contact on prejudice: findings across multiple participant and target groups

Charles R. Seger, Ishani Banerji, Sang Hee Park, Eliot R. Smith, Diane M. Mackie

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Emotions are increasingly being recognised as important aspects of prejudice and intergroup behaviour. Specifically, emotional mediators play a key role in the process by which intergroup contact reduces prejudice towards outgroups. However, which particular emotions are most important for prejudice reduction, as well as the consistency and generality of emotion–prejudice relations across different in-group–out-group relations, remain uncertain. To address these issues, in Study 1 we examined six distinct positive and negative emotions as mediators of the contact–prejudice relations using representative samples of U.S. White, Black, and Asian American respondents (N = 639). Admiration and anger (but not other emotions) were significant mediators of the effects of previous contact on prejudice, consistently across different perceiver and target ethnic groups. Study 2 examined the same relations with student participants and gay men as the out-group. Admiration and disgust mediated the effect of past contact on attitude. The findings confirm that not only negative emotions (anger or disgust, based on the specific types of threat perceived to be posed by an out-group), but also positive, status- and esteem-related emotions (admiration) mediate effects of contact on prejudice, robustly across several different respondent and target groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923-936
Number of pages14
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number5
Early online date20 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Intergroup contact
  • emotions
  • attitudes
  • prejudice
  • intergroup relations
  • social image

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