Working with emotion in educational intergroup dialogue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As a form of multicultural education, intergroup dialogue is one method to improve intergroup relations. Furthermore, this form of experiential education inevitably elicits emotional responses to diversity and social justice issues. The theory and research, however, supporting its pedagogy lack a comprehensive framework for working with emotion. Recent empirical and theoretical work on emotion in intergroup interaction gives us some guidance in conceptualizing the centrality and complexity of emotional content and processes in intergroup contact. Additionally, ample evidence exists for the primacy of affect in the regulation of social relationships from the parent-child dyad to intergroup interactions. Most empirical work on affect in intergroup relations primarily focuses on assessing reactions to imagined or actual, one-time laboratory encounters and examines the reactions of only dominant group members. In contrast to experimental work, intergroup dialogue involves complex dynamics within the context of structured, sustained, face-to-face conversation among real people of dominant and subordinate social identity groups. Recommendations to improve intergroup contact include intervention at the level of emotion. Although it does not focus systematically on the affective layer, intergroup dialogues' philosophy and structure prime the ground to do so. This paper proposes a set of principles to work with emotion in intergroup dialogue that would provide ways (1) to foster overall positive intergroup contact, (2) to work effectively with negative affect and resistance as integral and not subversive to positive intergroup interactions, (3) to attend to the force that ambivalence exerts on intergroup interaction, and (4) to work with facilitators' affective processes. Implications for research are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)595-612
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Education
  • Emotion
  • Intergroup relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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