Valuing Diversity: An Undervalued Outcome of and Potential Precursor to Intergroup Contact

Wallrich, Lukas. 2021. Valuing Diversity: An Undervalued Outcome of and Potential Precursor to Intergroup Contact. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

As diversity continues to increase across Western societies, prejudice persists. While public debate continues, meta-analytic evidence shows that identity-conscious approaches – those that recognise and appreciate differences – lead to reduced prejudice and better intergroup relations than identity-blind approaches. However, majority-status groups often prefer not to see colour or other differences. Therefore, the question of how a valuing of diversity can be developed matters. Intergroup contact might help, given that it is one of the best-established routes to prejudice reduction and an improvement of intergroup relations, yet to date, it has rarely been linked to diversity beliefs.

This thesis assesses the relationship between diversity beliefs and intergroup contact from various angles. It starts by asking about the primary direction of influence. So far, valuing diversity has been conceptualised as both a precursor to and outcome of intergroup contact, yet longitudinal or experimental research is very rare. Using longitudinal data, I show that positive and negative contact predict changes in the valuing of diversity over time, while the reverse paths are weaker and not statistically significant. From there, I test whether changes in valuing diversity can serve as a mediator that explains various effects of intergroup contact and show that such changes are particularly relevant when it comes to understanding the association between intergroup contact and cognitive outcomes. Regarding implications for practice, I show that a large-scale contact intervention increases the valuing of diversity, particularly when participants enter the intervention with high self-expansion orientation and engage in conversations about differences. However, a targeted intervention to promote the valuing of diversity through promoting conversations about the value of differences yielded mixed results, suggesting that the pathways to change are different for majority- and minority-status participants and that further intervention research is needed.

As highlighted through a single-paper meta-analysis at the end, the thesis provides consistent evidence for a model according to which positive and negative contact experiences shape the valuing of diversity, which then in turn shapes outgroup attitudes. I also present some evidence (both longitudinal and cross-sectional) that valuing diversity might increase intergroup approach intentions, and might thus result in increased intergroup contact over a longer timeframe. This suggests that conditions for the emergence of a virtuous cycle with self-reinforcing increases in positive contact and in valuing diversity might be created. With that, I highlight a novel pathway by which intergroup contact can contribute to the improvement of intergroup relations. Apart from advancing theory, this can inform the design of contact interventions.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


intergroup contact; diversity beliefs; prejudice; multiculturalism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 October 2021

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Date Deposited:

04 Nov 2021 12:18

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:19


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