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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Jay Jackson


Department of Psychology

Sponsor Department/Program

Department of Psychology


It is well established that favorable intergroup contact experiences reduce prejudice. We were interested in identifying personality variables that might lead some people to seek out favorable intergroup contact experiences and others to avoid them. Broadly, this process is called situational selection. Our main proposition is that the personality traits of openness, agreeableness, and authoritarianism influence the extent to which people seek out and enter into favorable intergroup contact situations, which, in turn, lead to favorable intergroup attitudes. The specific outgroups we examined for this study were Muslims, refugees, immigrants, the military, and Christian fundamentalists. To test our predictions, we asked 293 participants to complete measures of personality, intergroup contact experiences, and intergroup attitudes. Our main hypothesis was supported. Intergroup attitudes were significantly affected by the personality traits of openness, agreeableness, and authoritarianism, and these relationships were mediated by contact experiences. However, the strength of the relationships was also dependent on which outgroup was being evaluated. These results have implications for contact theory, which has generally neglected the potential role of personality. In addition, our results reveal a potential mechanism (intergroup contact) that may help explain why certain personality traits are associated with intergroup attitudes.

Situational Selection and Intergroup Relations