Personal Intergroup Contact Between Different Groups of Ex-combatants and Civilians: Evidence From a Behavioural Experiment in Rwanda
Although personal intergroup contact is known to predict positive intergroup outcomes, little is known about the kind of positive personal contact that reduces prejudice in real-world post-conflict societies. Using a behavioural experiment, the present study examined the effect of face-to-face personal contact between three groups of ex-combatants (national army, former national army and armed group) and civilians with disabilities in Rwanda. A total of 444 participants were randomly assigned to intergroup or intragroup pairs under high and low personalisation conditions, and their person preference, evaluative bias and impressions of contact partners were compared to those who had contact without personalisation. Between ex-combatants of the national army and civilians, low personalisation generally resulted in better intergroup outcomes than high personalisation or no personalisation. The trend is reversed for personalisation between the three groups of ex-combatants, who are former adversaries. Implications for personal contact in real-world post-conflict societies are discussed.
This paper was published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Volume 52, Issue 1, in February, 2022.