Intergroup friendship potential: exploring initial intergroup interactions and the desire to socialize

Deegan, Matthew P.
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University of Delaware
Many people are reluctant to pursue close relationships with members of other groups (Shelton & Richeson, 2005). Even for ingroup members, the transition from acquaintances to friends tends to be quite fragile (Lydon, Jamieson & Holmes, 1997). The current research was designed to examine how peoples' failure to view outgroup members as potential friends manifests in biased perceptions of outgroup members who express a desire to socialize and in a reduced likelihood of pursuing acquaintanceships with outgroup members. Study 1 was designed to test the prediction that people will be less likely to issue an invitation to socialize with an outgroup member compared to an ingroup member. Study 2 was designed to test the prediction that mutual self-disclosure with an outgroup member relative to an ingroup member will less strongly encourage the development of an acquaintanceship. In contrast to these hypotheses, the results of Study 1 showed that White participants did not differ in the likelihood that they would issue an invitation to a Black or White confederate. Also contrary to the hypothesis, in Study 2, high self-disclosure produced more favorable friendship-related attitudes and social behaviors compared to low self-disclosure for participants with Black confederates, while self-disclosure did not impact attitudes or social behaviors for participants with White confederates. This suggests that people may not categorically fail to view outgroup members as potential friends compared to ingroup members.