Migration and globalization trends have brought unprecedented rates of ethnocultural diversity in Europe (Vertovec, 2015), and consequentially intercultural relations have become a frequent and unavoidable component of individuals’ lives. The adequate management of this diversity is a top concern for policy makers, managers, and educators (European Comission, 2009). To best leverage the social and economic benefits of this diversity and minimize its risks (e.g. inequalities or discrimination), it is critical that we understand the psychological processes involved in intercultural relations, the psychological dispositions people bring to these interactions and the immediate and long-term psychological effects of these experiences. This project will elucidate these issues by conducting a comprehensive investigation among both cultural majority and minority individuals, and examining (1) the interplay of relational, identity, cognitive, and personality factors in the intercultural experience, and (2) whether and how different types of intercultural experiences (interpersonal and non-interpersonal, counter-stereotypic vs. stereotypic) facilitate vs. hinder two key ingredients of social capital: creative insight and positive intergroup attitudes. The project aims to test the premise that higher creativity and lower prejudice result from intercultural contact that is embedded in one’s habitual social networks and is stereotype challenging.
The field of action/goal of this study (i.e. promoting positive intercultural relationships and higher creativity) and the interventions it uses (that impact basic psychological processes) is clearly global and deals with a topic of growing concern in the larger international context.
As it is mentioned in the SDG statement, economic growth is not sufficient to reduce poverty and inequalities if it is not inclusive and if it does not involve the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. Policies to reduce inequality should focus on the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations, as well as on raising awareness about the causes and consequences of these disadvantages and discrimination against certain social groups. Cognitive stereotypes and prejudices, as well as the emotions and behaviors that are associated to them, are crucial elements at the roots of social inequalities. The promotion of a peaceful, non-violent, inclusive and cooperative society, that integrates and tries to foster the benefits of its intrinsic diversity, should start from basic education and continue in the work environment, in the media, and both at local and higher level policies. Learning how to coexist, cooperate and flourish (individually and collectively) in diverse environments is completely relevant if we want to achieve an equal society, and it requires creative and flexible mindsets, as well as the development of positive attitudes towards different (out)groups.
Findings from this research will impact the design, management, and implementation of evidence-based, effective intercultural policies and interventions (in educational, cultural, organizational, and community settings) that would bring about the aforementioned socio-cognitive benefits (i.e. creativity and positive intergroup attitudes), individually and collectively.
Specifically, thus project would inform policy makers on strategies to include and promote stereotypically challenging diversity in educational, political, and media institutions and programs. These interventions could be done with children, youth, and adults in both curricular and extracurricular programs. Furthermore, prejudice reduction interventions in institutional (e.g., antirumour campaigns) and mass-media contexts could be boosted by integrating this notion of counter-stereotypical diversity.
The project could also provide the basis to develop programs promoting creativity and entrepreneurship among young people, and at the same time providing them with stereotypically inconsistent and positive role models, for example organizing events where entrerpreneurs/artists with migrant/diverse backgrounds meet young people (of all backgrounds). It could also inspire the design of strategies in occupational orientation and labour insertion programmes in order to improve organizational innovation and creativity in work groups, as well the employability/job placement of people of culturally diverse backgrounds.
Results of the project could also be shared with local and national cultural, social, and activist organizations located in migrant-receiving communities, as well as with policy-oriented think-tanks in Catalonia (e.g., CIDOB, IEMED) and the rest of Spain.