Julia Köbrich / Borja Martinović / Tobias H. Stark

Interreligious Contact and Attitudes in Togo and Sierra Leone: The Role of Ingroup Norms and Individual Preferences

Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology | 2023

  • Abstract

    Rising religious violence makes it imperative to develop strategies to foster and preserve interreligious peace. We examine the role of descriptive and injunctive pro-mixing ingroup norms in explaining interreligious contact and, indirectly, more favorable interreligious attitudes. Ingroup norms have been argued to affect intergroup contact independently of individual preferences through mechanisms of social control and indirectly via the internalization of the norms in one’s own preferences. However, the relation between ingroup norms and individual preferences is rarely investigated, and it is unknown whether these two mechanisms matter differently for positive and negative contact. We conducted two studies (N1 = 678, N2 = 1,831) in Togo and Sierra Leone to determine whether ingroup norms predict positive and negative interreligious contact directly, indirectly via individual preferences, or via both mechanisms, and how this then translates to intergroup attitudes. We also explored whether the processes were comparable between countries and for religious majority and minority members. We found that descriptive and injunctive norms both mattered for interreligious contact. While for descriptive pro-mixing norms, direct mechanisms of social control were more pronounced, injunctive norms were related to interreligious contact and attitudes via preferences for similar others through internalization processes.

    Research Programmes


    Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology

    Number of Pages


    Contribution | 2024

    Pictures of Religion and Interreligious Relations in Everyday Life

    For a photo project Togolese and Sierra Leonean participants took photos of religion and interreligious relations in their everyday life. This documentation of the project displays their diverse perspectives and invites observers to reflect on religion and interreligious relations in their lives.

    Research Comic | 2024

    The Making of Interreligious Peace

    Sometimes, people belonging to different religions do not get along well. In 2022 we travelled to Sierra Leone and Togo where interreligious relations were very peaceful. This comic depicts some examples of how to make interreligious peace: celebrating together, collaborating, being friends, and respecting each other despite differences.


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