--- - |2 Abstract Italian criminal organisations (COs) engage in contact with community members to assert their control over local populations in Southern Italy. According to intracultural appropriation theory, COs’ presence in these regions is legitimised by values of masculinity and honour. Here, we test the role of these values in drawing people closer to COs, facilitating more frequent contact with COs’ members. Study 1 (NT1 = 176, NT2 = 170) used a two‐wave longitudinal design demonstrating that endorsement of masculine honour predicts more frequent contact with COs after five months. In contrast, results revealed no longitudinal effect of contact frequency on masculine honour endorsement. Using a cross‐sectional design, Study 2 (N = 314) extended these results by revealing an indirect effect of masculine honour on the tendency to see COs as embodying honour and respect (romanticisation), through more frequent contact with COs’ members. Limitations, directions for future research and implications of these results are discussed. - European Journal of Social Psychology, EarlyView.