Secondary transfer effects of intergroup contact via social identity complexity

Katharina Schmid, Miles Hewstone, Nicole Tausch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Secondary transfer effects (STEs) of intergroup contact refer to the generalization of contact effects from a primary encountered outgroup to attitudes towards secondary outgroups (Pettigrew, 2009). Using two large, cross-sectional data sets from Germany (N = 1,381) and Northern Ireland (N = 1,948), this article examined the extent to which STEs of intergroup contact on attitudes towards a range of secondary outgroups occur via a previously unexplored psychological construct, social identity complexity (operationalized as similarity complexity and overlap complexity). Study 1 found primary outgroup contact to be associated with greater similarity complexity, but no indirect effects on secondary outgroup attitudes via complexity emerged. Study 2, however, revealed indirect positive relationships between primary outgroup contact and secondary outgroup attitudes via increased similarity complexity and overlap complexity. These relationships were obtained while controlling for two previously tested mediating mechanisms, attitude generalization (operationalized as primary outgroup attitude) and deprovincialization (operationalized as ingroup attitude and identification). We discuss the theoretical implications of these findings and the contribution of social identity complexity to understanding processes underlying STEs of contact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-462
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date23 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


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