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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Report on Small Group Meeting on the Dynamics of intergroup relations: Majority and minority perspectives on improving intergroup relations

04.11.2015, by Kai Sassenberg2 in meeting report

June 18-21, 2015 (Budapest, Hungary) -- Organizers: Anna Kende, Nina Hansen & Sabine Otten

The Small Group Meeting ”Dynamics of intergroup relations: Majority and minority perspectives on improving intergroup relations” was organized by Anna Kende (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest), Nina Hansen and Sabine Otten (both University of Groningen) in Budapest, Hungary from June 19 to June 21. The aim of this meeting was to bring together researchers to discuss recent findings and theoretical concepts that demonstrate the dynamics of nowadays’ complex intergroup relations, the sometimes rocky road toward improving intergroup interactions, and the relevance of acknowledging the different perspectives of minority and majority groups herein. The meeting successfully brought together senior and junior researchers in the field, and specifically targeted participants from currently underrepresented areas in European, and especially Eastern-European social psychology. The 31 participants of the meeting came from 15 different countries in Western, Eastern, Northern, and Southern Europe, the US and Australia, 17 of them were senior researchers, including 5 full professors, and a total of 15 PhD students.

Although the topics were highly diverse, the recurring themes of intergroup contact, and its possible demobilization effect, social norms, and collective action wove the talks and posters nicely together. The meeting was also diverse in terms of the methods used, ranging from experimental studies and surveys to field research, and targeting a variety of intergroup relations along ethnic, status, ideological and gender lines. Most notably, the issue of discrimination against Roma people appeared as one of the most urging intergroup conflicts in the region that current social psychological research needs to address.

Day 1
The importance of peer and institutional norms in contact-based prejudice reduction was highlighted in the talks of the first thematic session. Evidence stemmed from longitudinal research, surveys and field experiments on Latino people in the United States or Roma people in Hungary. Intergroup contact was analyzed from the perspective of advantaged and disadvantaged groups and discussing the implications for social change and status beliefs. A number of presentations addressed the issue of blatant expression of prejudice against Roma and Muslim people in Europe, and suggested that new measures are required to predict behavioral tendencies more accurately than previously used attitude scales. Ideological framing and identity complexity were introduced as roots of conflict, but also as means to facilitate prejudice reduction and reconciliation processes.
The poster session addressed similar topics as discussed during the talks, including examples of the effects of intergroup contact in diverse societal contexts, questions of multiple identities, acculturation processes and intergroup helping.

Day 2
The first session of the day on post-conflict reconciliation had a clear focus on practical implications and applications, while also introducing new concepts and theories of dealing with intergroup conflict. Conflict itself was approached by multiple viewpoints, from positive emotions as tools of reconciliation (e.g. forgiveness, tolerance and respect), but also from negative emotions for a better understanding of the origins of the conflict, or the strategical considerations behind it. Collective action was the theme of the second session of the day. Several talks addressed the problem of intergroup contact and the demobilization effect and suggested ways to overcome ”inaction.” Moreover, we had the chance to gain insights into relevant local issues and conflicts and their social psychological implications in Europe, the Middle-East and Africa.
The importance of addressing the specificities of anti-Roma prejudice as a new form of discrimination in Europe was also underlined by the last session of the meeting consisting of a doctoral poster for PhD students from Hungarian universities and a round table discussion on newly emerging intergroup conflicts in Europe with the participation of invited speakers from the field of policy and politics.
Anna Kende, Nina Hansen, & Sabine Otten

Impressions from participants
Marija Brankovic (Belgrade University)
My impressions from the EASP Small Group Meeting ”Dynamics of intergroup relations: Majority and minority perspectives on improving intergroup relations” are overwhelmingly positive. I think that the papers have been carefully selected and presented research both methodologically sound and addressing very engaging topics. The organization was impeccable, with a careful timing, both efficient and allowing enough space for discussion. For me, this has been a wonderful opportunity for learning about the different perspectives on inter-group relations and also for sharing experiences and insights with fellow researchers. I particularly liked the stimulating interaction and discussion following the presentations, and extending into coffee breaks and into the evenings. This was a fine example of respectful and very constructive exchange. The comments will be very helpful in the future development of the research and the work on future publications. A particular quality that I would like to stress is the interaction between junior and senior researchers, and the engagement and openness on the part of the senior researchers. I believe I have greatly benefitted from attending this meeting.

Linda R. Tropp (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Thank you so much for convening such a wonderful meeting! The talks were insightful and thought-provoking, and our discussions allowed for exploration of truly novel theoretical developments and research questions in our field. I especially appreciated how researchers from many different countries were brought together to discuss issues of mutual interest, fostering further synergy, enthusiasm, and new collaborations among our global community of scholars.

Tim Hayes (University of Southern California)
I want to express my sincere gratitude to Anna, Nina, and Sabine for organizing such a thoroughly positive and productive conference. As an American PhD student attending an EASP small group meeting for the first time, this conference provided an invaluable opportunity to connect with like-minded researchers from the international community. When presenting my research on group influence at US conferences, I tend to be a bit of an outlier in a field more generally concerned with individual processes. Not so at EASP. Among the researchers at this conference, the concept of the social group is not only primary to social psychological theory, it is critical to understanding and ameliorating group conflicts with enormous real-world ramifications. From a very large pool of applications, the conference team selected a top-notch program: the conference presentations were uniformly excellent and the questions raised were always as supportive as they were insightful. The organization and time-keeping was also impeccable - despite the large amount of ground covered, there was always time for questions and the proceedings never felt rushed. Even the poster sessions were well-configured: keeping them smaller and spread out over the two days allowed me to have real, meaningful interactions with the presenters, giving the poster sessions a much more personal, collaborative feel than I've experienced elsewhere. In addition to the thoroughly engaging academic proceedings, I would be remiss if I did not mention the incredible warmth and hospitality the conference-goers experienced throughout this meeting. The dinners, outings, and city tour planned by Anna and the team were absolutely wonderful - a great opportunity to get to know my fellow researchers while being introduced to the beauty and the history of Budapest. I also want to express my sincerest thanks to Adrienn and Nora, who also helped facilitate this conference in ways big and small, even taking time to make sure I knew where to catch my bus on the last day. My only suggestion for the next conference would be to perhaps include a short biography and picture for each researcher in the conference, since this would facilitate more easily connecting names and faces after watching many presentations. In sum, thanks to the conference team for organizing such a world-class conference. This meeting provided connections and fostered collaborations among a group of like-minded researchers who share a common commitment to furthering research on group identities and intergroup relations. Many, many thanks to the conference team, and congratulations on a job very well done!

Siwar Hasan-Aslih & Hanna Szekeres (The Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya)
The conference was organized very well. The small meeting format allowed us to attend all presentations, and because there were enough breaks, it was not tiring at all. There were also great social events, and we got to know all these nice people who attended the conference. The small meeting also gave us the opportunity to discuss research in general, and specifically, to get valuable feedback on our own projects. Altogether, it was a very warm and enriching experience for us.


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Event

  • Small Group Meeting on the Dynamics of intergroup relations: Majority and minority perspectives on improving intergroup relations

    Thursday, 18.06.2015 til Sunday, 21.06.2015
    Budapest