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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Psychology

Year Degree Awarded

Fall 2013

First Advisor

Linda Tropp

Second Advisor

Brian Lickel

Subject Categories

Social Psychology

Abstract

Most research on intergroup relations has focused on two groups, whereby one group’s attitudes toward another group may change as a result of their contact experiences with that other group. Yet in real life settings, contexts in which groups come into contact are likely to involve multiple groups. This research argues that attitudes and perceptions that members of one group form about another group depend not only on their direct contact experiences with that group, but also on their relationship with third-party groups, and the perceived relationships that third-party groups have with the other group. The present research uses structural balance theory as a guiding framework, and emerging intergroup research on indirect contact effects, to examine these processes in multi-group contexts. First, a field survey study in Lebanon examined how Lebanese contact with and attitudes toward Palestinians (third party) would predict their attitudes toward Israelis. Next, a laboratory experiment was conducted at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, to test whether multi-group relations and effects would follow similar patterns in an experimental setting. Results show evidence of some third party influence, and these findings and their implications are discussed.

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