Several variables influence whether contact with a favorable out-group member has a beneficial impact on intergroup relations. In two experiments we examined the effect of competition-induced anxiety on reaction to the behavior of a favorable out-group member. In Experiment 1 a competitive context produced (a) anxiety, relative to a cooperative context, and (b) assimilation of a favorable out-group member to the unfavorable majority. Experiment 2 replicated this finding and showed that when anxiety was reduced, those who expected to compete with the out-group formed a more favorable and veridical impression of the positive out-group member. Taken together, results support the hypothesis that the expectation of an unpleasant competitive encounter with an out-group generates anxiety that, in turn, lessens the impact of positive behavior by an out-group member. Implications of this research for intergroup relations are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science