Parallel lives : Intergroup contact, threat and the segregation of everyday activity spaces

Dixon, John and Tredoux, Colin and Davies, Gemma and Huck, Jonny and Hocking, Bree and Sturgeon, Brendan and Whyatt, James Duncan and Jarman, Neil and Bryan, Dominic (2020) Parallel lives : Intergroup contact, threat and the segregation of everyday activity spaces. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 118 (3). pp. 457-480. ISSN 0022-3514

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Although intergroup contact can reduce prejudice, opportunities to experience such contact are often constrained by systems of segregation. Work on this problem has focused on divisions entrenched within institutions of residence, education, and employment. Our research employed a complementary approach, which treated segregation as the outcome of individuals’ movements over time within everyday life spaces. Taking as a case study Catholics’ and Protestants’ use of public environments in north Belfast, we used GPS tracking technology, combined with GIS analytics, to explore the time geography of residents’ activity space use over a 2-week period (Study 1). We also conducted a field survey to explore how psychological factors shaped their willingness to use activity spaces beyond their own communities (Study 2). Analysis based on around 1,000 hr of raw movement data revealed that north Belfast is marked by high levels of segregation, expressed via residents’ limited use of public spaces, facilities, and pathways located in outgroup areas. However, use of shared spaces is also common, with Catholics spending more time in such spaces than Protestants. Structural equation modeling suggested that residents’ self-reported willingness to use activity spaces outside their own communities was associated with both negative and positive intergroup contact—relationships partially mediated by realistic threat, symbolic threat, and anxiety over interaction across sectarian lines. Both kinds of contact and realistic threat were also associated with the time residents actually spent in spaces beyond their own communities. Opportunities for integrating psychological and geographic research on contact and segregation are highlighted.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Additional Information:
©American Psychological Association, 2019. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at:10.1037/pspi0000191
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? social psychologysociology and political science ??
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Deposited On:
11 Mar 2019 10:25
Last Modified:
10 Dec 2023 01:49