To be fair, as with a previous survey, the point of the report Can Contact Promote Better Relations? Evidence from Mixed and Segregated Areas of Belfast – full report here and summary here [both pdf files – fixed link] – is that it’s the first “longitudinal study (tracking the same individuals over time) of whether (and if so, how) contact works.” The researchers sampled adults living in Andersonstown and Ballybeen [the two segregated communities used] and Fortwilliam and Rossetta [the mixed communities used]. They found, as you might expect, that “contact reduces bias.” But there are interesting points to note about the differences in attitudes. Some of those summary findings are below the fold.There are some findings worth highlighting from the full report [pdf file].
VII. Differences as a function of area, community, and time for all variables measured in both surveys (N = 404)
Summary. Findings can be grouped into 4 sections:
(1) Contact measures: results confirm the markedly different contact experience in the mixed and segregated areas. Respondents in mixed areas reported greater opportunities for cross-community contact, more contact, higher quality contact, more contact with outgroup friends, and more positive outgroup experiences.
(2) Identity dimensions: Community identity was stronger for Catholics than Protestants, but especially in segregated areas. Catholics had higher regard/collective self-esteem (both private and public) and explicit importance than Protestants, meaning that they themselves judged their community more favourably, they perceived others to view their own group more favourably, and they considered their community more important to their overall self-concept. In addition, but only in segregated areas, Catholics had a stronger sense of emotional involvement with, and affiliative orientation to, their community, and they tended to merge their sense of self and the group more than did Protestants.
(3) Anxiety, threat, and self-disclosure: These results paint a mixed picture of the climate in segregated and mixed areas. On the one hand, there was greater intergroup anxiety, greater distinctiveness threat and group-esteem threat, and less self-disclosure to outgroup friends in segregated areas. On the other hand, respondents in segregated areas rated the status of their groups as higher (which could be a reflection of collective self-esteem), and Catholics felt more personally threatened when living in mixed than segregated areas. Catholic-Protestant differences were less pronounced, but despite all the evidence of a stronger social identity among Catholics than Protestants, Catholics still rated their own groups status as lower than that of Protestants (but see data, below, on expected future changes).
(4) Measures pertaining to intergroup attitudes, discrimination, and trust: Although there was no overall difference between segregated and mixed areas on measures of bias relating to attitudes and actions, respondents in mixed areas were more certain about their attitudes, and reported greater outgroup trust (Catholics also trusted the outgroup more than did Protestants).
VIII. New variables measured only at time 2: Effects of area and community.
Summary: The new items added to the survey confirmed the more positive climate in the mixed than the segregated areas. Compared with respondents in the segregated areas, respondents in the mixed areas:
(1) rated themselves, and perceived both ingroup and outgroup others, as more willing to engage in contact;
(2) felt closer to the outgroup;
(3) showed lower support for ingroup political violence;
(4) perceived status relations as more fair, and changes in status relations to be more likely to favour the ingroup;
(5) were more personally and comparatively satisfied (less personally and fraternally relatively deprived);
(6) did not differ in their level of fears and hopes (but Protestants were more fearful and less hopeful); and finally,
(7) rated their area less cohesive on quantitative measures of social capital, but there was no difference on qualitative measures (thus respondents in the two types of areas did not differ in the extent to which they rated the area as friendly and safe, trusted others in it, and got along socially with them).