Yucel, D., & Psaltis, C. (2020). Intergroup contact and willingness for renewed cohabitation in Cyprus: Exploring the mediating and moderating mechanisms. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 23(4), 578–597. https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430219845053
Background & Theory
Intergroup contact theory has been popular amongst conflict and social psychology researchers for a long time. Regionally, Cyprus has seen a protracted conflict between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots for the last 44 years. Drawing from intergroup contact theory, the authors of this research sought to study the mediating role of prejudice, trust, and age to understand how intergroup contact has different effects depending on these factors.
The authors hypothesized the following:
- H1 – More quality and quantity of contact will be positively related to a willingness for renewed cohabitation.
- H2a – Trust will mediate the relationship between quantity (and quality) of contact and willingness for renewed cohabitation.
- H2b – Prejudice will mediate the relationship between quantity (and quality) of contact and willingness to integrate with the other community.
- H3 – The direct and indirect effects of quantity and quality of contact are expected to vary across age so that older Turkish Cypriots and younger Greek Cypriots will benefit more from contact compared to younger Turkish Cypriots and older Greek Cypriots.
The authors collected data from a representative sample of 502 Greek Cypriots (GC) and 504 Turkish Cypriots (TC) who were 18 and over with voting rights via telephone surveys. The respondents were asked to rate their agreement with two statements adapted from the original Bogardus Social Distance Scale: “I feel that I can live together with GCs/TCs and “I would not mind having GCs/TCs as neighbors”.
Trust was measured by asking the respondents questions adapted from Brehm and Rahn’s Trust Scale (1997): “Would you say that most GCs/TCs can be trusted?” The researchers measured prejudice by asking the respondents to rate how warm their feelings towards the outgroup were on a thermometer scale from 1 (0 degrees) to 11 (100 degrees),
The TC sample reported more contact with the other community. The GC sample reported higher trust, whereas the TC sample reported higher prejudice. Quantity of contact and quality of contact were significantly and positively correlated with trust and willingness for renewed cohabitation and negatively correlated with prejudice for both groups.
For GCs, age was positively correlated with trust and willingness for renewed cohabitation but negatively correlated with prejudice. For TCs, however, age was negatively correlated with trust and willingness for renewed cohabitation but positively correlated with prejudice.
How This Translates for the Workplace
- Age-specific intervention- This study showed that age played a big role in the trust and prejudice experienced by the two communities, and in opposing directions. It is hence important to look at the role that age and generational gaps play in an organization to mediate different role-relationships and hierarchies. In some cases, it may be that younger employees are more open and trusting of those from opposing communities or vice versa. Workplaces must assess the attitudes of employees when it comes to these seniority and experience-related parameters so that they can have targeted interventions. For example, while conducting trust-building activities, they can be specific about the groups between whom they seek to gain trust. We at PPS offer training for workplaces in diversity, inclusion, as well as conflict resolution. Contact us to improve intergroup contact between your employees and make your workplace more inclusive!
- Promoting intergroup contact between historically conflicted communities- The authors included policy recommendations from the study and concluded that “GC and TC employers in similar industries could work together to exchange employees on a short-term basis. In addition, employers could reserve some positions for qualified applicants from the other community”. Transposing this to workplaces in general, wherever your organization is located, there must be some conflict between local communities. Your workplace can organize exchanges with similar organizations who have employees from the same or opposing communities to initiate more contact. You can also reserve positions for qualified applicants, as the researchers suggested. This, however, must be done very carefully and with the utmost sensitivity. Contact us for tips on how to lead such programs with nuance and get desirable outcomes.