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Different forms of intergroup contact with former adversary are linked to distinct reconciliatory acts through symbolic and realistic threat

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In a society burdened with the most severe type of intergroup conflict, we examined the association between willingness to reconcile with former adversary, intergroup contact with, and perceived threat from former adversary. We focused on three reconciliatory acts—forgiveness to the outgroup, support for ingroup apology and support for financial compensation to the outgroup. We included different forms of positive and negative intergroup contact—direct and indirect (extended and mass‐mediated). In the link between contact and reconciliation, we tested the mediating role of two types of intergroup threat—realistic and symbolic. The sample comprised Bosniaks (N = 267) and Croats (N = 278) from Bosnia and Herzegovina. In both samples, reconciliation associated with indirect forms of intergroup contact even when controlling for its link with direct contact. This indicates the potential of indirect contact to promote reconciliation in the lack of direct contact, characteristic for segregated post‐conflict societies. Symbolic threat mediated the relationship between intergroup contact and symbolic forms of reconciliation—forgiveness and support for ingroup apology. Realistic threat mediated the link between intergroup contact and a more tangible form of reconciliation—support for financial compensation. This highlights the importance of considering different types intergroup threat when targeting distinct reconciliatory acts. Our results suggest that practitioners promoting reconciliation in post‐conflict societies need to implement different means when tailoring interventions that should enhance different sides of peace‐making process.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2019

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