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Unwilling, but not unaffected—Imagined contact effects for authoritarians and social dominators

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


According to a dual process model perspective, intergroup contact should be particularly effective for people high in right‐wing authoritarianism (RWA), but not for those high in social dominance orientation (SDO), because of different underlying motivational goals. In the present studies, we tested the hypothesis that imagined contact, that is, the mental representation of a positive intergroup encounter, improves intergroup relations for high RWAs. In two experimental studies, we showed that high RWAs, compared with low RWAs, show less negative emotions toward Turks (Study 1; N = 120) and more willingness to engage in future contact with Romani people (Study 2; N = 85) after imagined contact. As expected, people high in SDO did not benefit from imagined contact. Instead, people low in SDO showed less negative emotions after imagined contact in Study 1, but this effect was not replicated in the second study. Theoretical implications and the role of imagined contact as a possible intervention for highly biased individuals will be discussed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.