Inclusive social norms and nationals’ positive intergroup orientations toward refugees: The moderating role of initial prejudice and intergroup contact
Research on the interplay between inclusive norms and intergroup contact on improving intergroup orientations has yielded conflicting results, suggesting either that an experience of personal contact is necessary to have a positive effect of inclusive norms or that such personal experience is not always necessary. To clarify this issue, across four studies (N = 835), we investigated the influence of inclusive norms on positive intergroup orientations as a function of personal experiences of intergroup contact. Study 1 demonstrated that inclusive norms are more strongly correlated with experiences of personal contact with outgroups with whom opportunities of contact are more (i.e., immigrants) than less (i.e., refugees) frequent. Study 2 provided experimental evidence for this finding showing that inclusive norms increase prejudiced nationals’ willingness to engage in future contact with immigrants but not with refugees, suggesting that conformity to inclusive norms depends on varying contact opportunities with the outgroups. Studies 3 and 4 confirmed that prejudiced nationals conformed to inclusive norms specifically when experienced positive contact with a refugee (experimentally induced with the imagined contact paradigm), compared with no contact (Study 3) or negative contact (Study 4). We discuss the implications of these findings for research on intergroup contact, social influence, and intergroup relations.