Imagined Synchrony Improves Attitudes Towards Out-groups

Published in Psychological Studies.

Gray Atherton & Liam Cross from the Department of Psychology, Edge Hill University, Liverpool asked the interesting question about imagined synchrony and its effects on attitudes to other people.


People are prone to dividing others into the categories of ‘us’ and ‘them’. This can be particularly detrimental to minorities who may experience social exclusion, prejudice, and reduced access to equal opportunities. One method of improving intergroup relations is to create opportunities for contact. Common contact interventions have members of different groups meet and engage in conversation. There are also non-verbal embodied intergroup activities that produce the same effects. Previous work has shown that the pro-social effects of coordination may be linked to whether co-actors are classed as in or out-group members. The current study explored whether imagining walking in synchrony with in- or out-group members changed majority members’ attitudes towards those individuals. Imagining walking in synchrony fostered greater increases in empathy and decreases in negative attitudes only towards minority group members following imagined coordination (not in-groups). Implications and future directions are discussed.

Read full article (limited-time open access).

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