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We Are the “Human Family”

Multicultural Experiences Predict Less Prejudice and Greater Concern for Human Rights Through Identification With Humanity

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000337

Abstract

Abstract. This research investigated whether multicultural experiences impact identification with humanity within a broader prejudice-reduction framework. Results suggest two components of multicultural experiences – experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members – were negatively associated with ethnic (Study 1) and immigrant prejudice (Studies 2 and 3) through stronger identification with humanity. When controlling for their overlapping variance, overall findings suggest experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members both uniquely predicted less prejudice through identification with humanity. In Study 3, frequent, positive intercultural contact predicted less prejudice and greater concern for human rights through identification with humanity. Meta-analytic evidence suggests the negative association between experiences with cultural elements and prejudice (r = −.30) was stronger than for contact (r = −.20).

When the Ottoman Empire exterminated nearly 1.5 million people during the Armenian Genocide, Great Britain, France, and Russia called the act a “crime against humanity” (McFarland, 2011). It was the first recorded use of such a phrase, perhaps a reflection of an increasingly globalized world and the perceived interconnectedness of its members (e.g., Rosenmann, Reese, & Cameron, 2016). Decades later, this nascent idea – an all-encompassing humanity – would be written into official United Nations doctrine (the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”) during and after the Nuremberg Trials of World War II. If the social creation of the concept of “humanity” has been a slow and ongoing process, so, too, has the extent to which people personally identify with humanity (McFarland, 2011, 2016; McFarland, Brown, & Webb, 2013).

Though relatively uncommon (McFarland et al., 2013), strong identification with humanity seems to be a desirable quality in individuals and societies (but see Rosenmann et al., 2016) – a defining quality, in fact, that led some to risk their own lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust (McFarland et al., 2013; Monroe, 1996). Research on the Identification With All Humanity (IWAH) scale (McFarland, Webb, & Brown, 2012), an individual difference measure capturing one’s identification with and care for all humanity, suggests human identification predicts (but is also independent of) placing equal value on the lives of ingroups and outgroups, low levels of ethnocentrism, high dispositional empathy, concern for global human rights and humanitarian needs, and the desire to contribute time or resources to humanitarian relief efforts (McFarland et al., 2012; for reviews, see McFarland, 2016; McFarland et al., 2013). The IWAH scale has not been the only measure developed to capture such a construct. The Psychological Sense of Global Community (Malsch & Omoto, 2007; also see Hackett, Omoto, & Matthews, 2015), Global Social Identification (Reese, Proch, & Cohrs, 2014), and Global Citizenship Identification (Reysen & Katzarska-Miller, 2013) scales were each developed around the same time but independently of one another. Together, all scales have been referred to collectively as “global human identification,” capturing similar feelings of connection to humanity or the global community, and correlating in the same directions with important outcomes (Barth, Jugert, Wutzler, & Fritsche, 2015; Buchan et al., 2011; McFarland & Hornsby, 2015; also see Rosenmann et al., 2016).

For all we have learned about the content and correlates of identification with humanity, we still know little about how it develops. Theory-driven attempts to explain the roots of identifying with humanity, for example, through Maslow’s theory of “the self-actualized person,” parental practices in socializing children to care for all humans, or one’s religious faith (e.g., to care for all of God’s children), have received little empirical support (McFarland, 2016; McFarland et al., 2013). In the present work, we hypothesize that identification with humanity develops as a function of contact and experiences with members of foreign cultures. Indeed, some have speculated, “Many forces, both collective and individual, retard our concern for all humanity… On the other hand, extensive intercultural contact, at least under conditions of equality, likely enlarges it” (McFarland, 2011, p. 16). Here, we test this assumption for the first time.

We situate our examination of the roots of identification with humanity in the broader literature on intergroup contact theory and prejudice. We suggest intercultural contact breeds cognitive representations of others that are less intergroup (“us” vs. “them”) and more superordinate (i.e., “all of humanity”). This inclusive, superordinate identity, in which the self and all other humans are part of the same category (e.g., Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, & Wetherell, 1987; Turner, Oakes, Haslam, & McGarty, 1994), should be associated with less prejudice across a range of outgroups (e.g., Gaertner & Dovidio, 2012). In the sections that follow, we outline this hypothesized model in greater detail.

Intergroup Contact, Superordinate Identities, and Prejudice: A Common Ingroup Identity Framework

Allport’s (1954) initial theorizing on intergroup contact outlined four necessary conditions for prejudice reduction to occur: equal status between groups, cooperative intergroup interaction, common goals, and support of institutions or social norms. Advances in intergroup contact theory and research, however, have shown these conditions are not necessary for prejudice reduction to occur – though they do increase their effect (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006). Additional research has investigated how contact reduces prejudice, showing this occurs through various affective (e.g., anxiety, empathy) and cognitive (e.g., outgroup knowledge, perspective taking, cognitive representations) mediators (e.g., Brown & Hewstone, 2005; Hodson & Hewstone, 2013; Pettigrew, 1998; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2008; Pettigrew, Tropp, Wagner & Christ, 2011; Swart, Hewstone, Christ, & Voci, 2011).

Of particular importance to the present work is research suggesting intergroup contact changes the cognitive representation between ingroup and outgroup. Among students in a multicultural high school, intergroup contact predicted stronger superordinate identification and the perception all students were part of one group. This inclusive superordinate identity, in turn, predicted less bias toward peers from ethnic outgroups (Gaertner, Rust, Dovidio, Bachman, & Anastasio, 1994; also see Gaertner, Dovidio, & Bachman, 1996; Pettigrew, 1998). The reason this cognitive-representational process mediates the effect of intergroup contact on prejudice is explained by recategorization and the common ingroup identity model. A considerable body of research has shown that when individuals (e.g., White-Americans) recategorize outgroup members (e.g., Black-Americans) to be part of a broader ingroup (e.g., Americans), attitudes become more positive because groups previously perceived to be part of the outgroup are now part of the ingroup (for reviews, see Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000, 2012). Yet, this categorization process can be applied to superordinate identities even more inclusive than a single high school, community, or country. Perhaps the most inclusive superordinate identity rests at the level of humanity (e.g., Turner et al., 1987), in which the self and all other humans are included within the same ingroup – the “human family.” For a superordinate identity as broad as humanity to become salient during intergroup contact, the context of that contact should also be rather broad – for instance, at the level of culture.

Universal culture is the recognition there is a “humanness” in each of us that extends across cultures (Vontress, 1996). This was the ultimate goal of photographer Edward Steichen, who chose 503 photographs to document the “essential oneness of mankind” and show “above all, how alike people were in all parts of the world” (Steichen, 1963, p. 633). Some theorists have argued that regardless of culture, humanity is conjoined by various human universals, aspects of the human species that reveal our shared commonalities. Universals among human beings include aspects as basic as our biological needs to eat, sleep, and procreate (Vontress, 1996), and as broad as social norms about reciprocal “turn-taking” in communication or values perpetuating justice and fairness in society (Moghaddam, 2010). Cultures may vary in the specific content of their cultural elements, but all of human behavior – regardless of culture – is invariably guided by socially constructed eating practices, norms, languages, beliefs, and values that fundamentally differ from other nonhuman organisms (e.g., Brown, 1991). We hypothesize, then, that more frequent contact with those from foreign cultures should highlight the perceived similarity and common fate of all humans (e.g., Campbell, 1958), ultimately increasing one’s identification with humanity.

The Role of Positive Contact

Frequency of contact may not be the only dimension needed to account for identification with humanity. Recent advances in intergroup contact theory suggest contact quality is more important than quantity (e.g., Barlow et al., 2012; Brown & Hewstone, 2005). Moreover, Paolini, Harwood, and Rubin (2010; also see Graf & Paolini, 2017) have argued positive contact experiences should be associated with the perception of a positive ingroup. This assertion is supported largely by self-categorization theory, which suggests there is more normative, or expected, fit between positive qualities and ingroups than outgroups (Oakes, Haslam, & Turner, 1994; Turner et al., 1987). Thus, frequent intercultural contact that is positive and cooperative should increase one’s tendency to identify more inclusively (e.g., “we are all part of the same human family”) and, in turn, lead to more positive and ingroup-oriented attitudes (e.g., Gaertner et al., 1994; McFarland & Hornsby, 2015). This could occur, for instance, even without the explicit comparison of an outgroup (e.g., Gaertner, Iuzzini, Witt, & Oriña, 2006).

By contrast, some individuals may have frequent contact with members of other cultures – but if that contact is negative or competitive, they may prefer to identify in a more exclusive way. Seeing more rigid and defined boundaries between “us” and “them,” in turn, should lead people to express more prejudice toward and less concern for perceived outgroups (e.g., Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000, 2012). While this has not been explicitly addressed, research has shown negative contact increases the salience of people’s respective group memberships (Paolini et al., 2010). Finally, if the frequency and positivity of contact with people from foreign cultures is consistent across time, it should make one’s identification with humanity become relatively stable and accessible irrespective of contextual cues (e.g. Turner & Onorato, 2010; also see Rosenmann et al., 2016).

Multicultural Experiences as a Distinct Form of Intergroup Contact

Traveling to a foreign country, interacting with people from a different culture, or trying new cultural foods are each examples of multicultural experiences, “all direct and indirect experiences of encountering or interacting with the elements and/or members of foreign cultures” (Leung, Maddux, Galinsky, & Chiu, 2008, p. 169). To date, most work in this area has focused on how multicultural experiences enhance creativity (e.g., Maddux, Adam, & Galinsky, 2010; Maddux & Galinsky, 2009; for a review, see Leung et al., 2008), but recently, researchers have investigated multicultural experiences in the context of intergroup relations. These studies suggest experiences with other cultures and their members can reduce prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination (Tadmor, Hong, Chao, Wiruchnipawan, & Wang, 2012; Sparkman, Eidelman, & Blanchar, 2016).

Multicultural experiences and intergroup contact each share a similar intergroup focus, but they are distinct in two important ways. First, the focus of multicultural experiences is at a broader, more global level of analysis. Intergroup contact theory typically examines how interactions between group members or subcultures within the same country or society can improve intergroup attitudes and behavior. For instance, research has investigated interactions between Catholics and Protestants within Northern Ireland (e.g., Hewstone et al., 2005), Whites and Blacks within the United States (e.g., Allport, 1954), and Whites, Blacks, and Coloreds within South Africa (e.g., Swart et al., 2011; for a review on diversity experiences, also see Aberson, 2010). Research on multicultural experiences expands the traditional scope of intergroup contact because it focuses on how interactions between groups from foreign cultures can improve attitudes and behavior (Sparkman et al., 2016; also see Hodson & Hewstone, 2013).

The second distinction between intergroup contact and multicultural experiences is the content of their focus. Multicultural experiences not only examine interpersonal contact between members of foreign cultures, but also non-interpersonal contact with their cultural elements. Much can be learned about those from foreign cultures by eating their cuisine, listening to their music and watching their films, or engaging in their norms and customs (Tadmor et al., 2012). Some preliminary evidence suggests that when contact with cultural members and experiences with cultural elements are measured separately, the negative association between cultural elements and prejudice is stronger than contact and prejudice (Sparkman et al., 2016). To further investigate these separate dimensions of multicultural experiences, we examine not only how interpersonal contact with those from foreign cultures impacts prejudice – but also how non-interpersonal experiences with cultural elements impact prejudice.

Overview of the Present Research

In three studies, we took a correlational approach and examined whether multicultural experiences – composed of experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members – predicted more positive intergroup attitudes and beliefs through identification with humanity. In Studies 1 and 2, we examined whether mere quantity of multicultural experiences is sufficient to predict identification with humanity and, in turn, less prejudice. To assess the generalizability of our findings between studies, we (1) measured identification with humanity using a single self-other overlap item (Study 1) as well as questions from the IWAH scale (Study 2), (2) operationalized prejudice as negative attitudes toward ethnic outgroups (Study 1) as well as immigrants (Study 2), and (3) recruited from both undergraduate (Study 1) and nonstudent adult samples (Study 2). In Study 3, we replicated and extended our findings by simultaneously accounting for the quantity and quality of multicultural experiences and examining whether this predicted less immigrant prejudice and greater concern for human rights through identification with humanity.

To increase transparency in psychological science, we report how we determined our sample size, data exclusions, and relevant measures across studies. Additional information and relevant analyses can be found in Electronic Supplementary Materials, ESM 1. All data reported in the present research have been posted to the Open Science Framework, including raw data files and SPSS syntax to aid in the recreation of variables and data exclusions (Sparkman, 2017; https://osf.io/vkqx6/).

Study 1

Method

Participants and Procedure

Prior to data collection, we sought a sample of 300 participants. Two hundred ninety-six undergraduates at the University of Arkansas participated in an online study about social experiences and perception in exchange for partial credit in a course. Twenty-seven participants were excluded for failing attention checks (e.g., “This is an attention check item. Please select ‘slightly disagree’ for your answer.”), as well as two participants for giving a response three standard deviations from the mean on the multicultural experience measure (see below). This left a final sample of 267 participants for analyses (69% female; 85% White; Mage = 20.07 years, SD = 4.63). After providing informed consent, participants completed randomly presented measures of self-reported multicultural experiences, identification with humanity, ethnic prejudice, and several additional measures unrelated to the present study (see Sparkman & Eidelman, 2016).

Measures

Multicultural Experiences

To assess participants’ self-reported multicultural experiences, we used a measure from previous research (Sparkman et al., 2016) based, in part, on the Multicultural Experience Scale (MES; Leung & Chiu, 2010). Sparkman and colleagues (2016) conducted a principal components analysis (PCA) on their measure and found a two-component solution consistent with the conceptual definition of multicultural experiences (cf. Leung & Chiu, 2010). To cross-validate this bidimensional structure on a different sample, we used the same 13-item measure from Sparkman et al. (2016) and conducted a principal components analysis using direct oblimin rotation (for more information, see Electronic Supplementary Material, ESM 1). Findings were consistent with previous PCA results: experiences with cultural elements (α = .80) and contact with cultural members (α = .76) each possessed good internal consistency, and the two components were positively correlated, r = .44, p < .001. For the full items, response scales, and component loadings, see Table 1.

Table 1 Items and component loadings of the Bidimensional Multicultural Experience Scale
Identification With Humanity

To measure individual differences in identification with humanity, we modified Aron, Aron, and Smollan’s (1992) Inclusion of Other in the Self (IOS) scale, in which participants are asked to choose among seven increasingly overlapping dyadic circles between “Self” and “Other.” Using a single item, we reframed these “Self” and “Other” anchors by asking, “How much overlap do you see between yourself and all of humanity,” followed by, “Considering yourself as ‘Self’ and all of humanity as ‘Other,’ which circle best represents the amount of overlap you see between yourself and all of humanity?” (e.g., McFarland et al., 2012).

Ethnic Prejudice

Attitudes toward five ethnic outgroups (Africans, Slavs [people of Slavic nations], Asians, Arabs, and Latin Americans) were assessed using a feeling thermometer scale (0 = very cold, 100 = very warm). Responses were averaged and subtracted from 100 to create an index of ethnic prejudice (α = .90), with higher scores denoting more prejudice.

Results

Descriptive statistics and bivariate correlations are reported in Table 2. We hypothesized multicultural experiences would predict less ethnic prejudice through identification with humanity. We first used Hayes’ (2013) PROCESS macro for SPSS to conduct two separate mediation models examining the independent impact of each component of multicultural experiences (i.e., without controlling for their overlapping variance) on ethnic prejudice (for results of an alternative model, see ESM 1). We finish by conducting confirmatory path analyses using AMOS 20 to examine the model fit and relative importance of each component of multicultural experiences by accounting for their overlapping variance. All mediation analyses were conducted with 95% bias-corrected confidence intervals based on 5,000 bootstrap samples.

Table 2 Descriptive statistics and bivariate correlations among variables in Study 1

Mediation Analyses

Results supported our predictions. Experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members were negatively associated with ethnic prejudice and positively associated with identification with humanity, and identification with humanity was negatively associated with ethnic prejudice. The indirect effects of both components of multicultural experiences on ethnic prejudice through identification with humanity were significant, experiences with cultural elements (see Figure 1): β = −0.02, SE = 0.01, 95% CI [−0.05, −0.0004], 33% observed power of the indirect effect; contact with cultural members: β = −0.02, SE = 0.01, 95% CI [−0.06, −0.001], 39% observed power of the indirect effect (see Kenny, 2017). When accounting for the indirect effect of identification with humanity, the direct effects of both components of multicultural experiences on ethnic prejudice remained significant, suggesting partial mediation, experiences with cultural elements: β = −0.27, SE = 0.06, 95% CI [−0.39, −0.16], p < .001; contact with cultural members, β = −0.25, SE = 0.06, 95% CI [−0.36, −0.13], p < .001. In brief, our results suggest both components of multicultural experiences are associated with less ethnic prejudice through stronger identification with humanity.

Figure 1 Separate mediation models (Study 1) depicting the effects of experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members on ethnic prejudice through identification with humanity. All path coefficients are standardized and the total effects are listed in parentheses. ***p < .001, **p < .01, *p < .05.

Confirmatory Analyses

We constructed the proposed path model by first covarying experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members. We then drew direct paths from each component of multicultural experiences to identification with humanity and ethnic prejudice, and also from identification with humanity to ethnic prejudice. Because experiences with cultural elements did not significantly predict identification with humanity (β = .09, p = .19) when controlling for contact with cultural members, we removed this direct path to gain the degrees of freedom needed to examine model fit. In line with the recommendations of Tabachnick and Fidell (2013), the goodness-of-fit of the model was assessed using the chi-square test (χ2/df ratio of less than 2), comparative fit index (CFI; greater than or equal to .95), and root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA; less than or equal to .06). The proposed model provided a good fit to the data (see Figure 2), χ2/df = 1.70/1 = 1.70, p = .19, CFI = 0.99, RMSEA = 0.05.

Figure 2 Path model (Study 1) depicting the unique effects of experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members on ethnic prejudice through identification with humanity. All path coefficients are standardized and the total effect is listed in parentheses. Model fit: χ2/df = 1.70/1 = 1.70, p = .19, CFI = 0.99, RMSEA = 0.05. ***p < .001, **p < .01, *p < .05, p < .08.

We next examined whether identification with humanity mediated the negative association between contact with cultural members and ethnic prejudice (when accounting for experiences with cultural elements in the same model). The indirect effect of contact with cultural members on ethnic prejudice through identification with humanity was marginally significant, β = −0.02, SE = 0.01, 95% CI [−0.05, 0.001], p = .07, 28% observed power of the indirect effect. When accounting for the indirect effect of identification with humanity, the direct effect of contact with cultural members on ethnic prejudice remained significant, β = −0.16, SE = 0.06, 95% CI [−0.28, −0.04], p = .01.

Discussion

In a first test of our hypotheses, results from the current study suggest self-reported frequency of multicultural experiences – both experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members – was positively associated with perceived overlap between the “self” and “all of humanity,” and negatively associated (about equally in strength) with prejudice toward various ethnic outgroups. Importantly, both components of multicultural experiences predicted less ethnic prejudice through stronger identification with humanity. Results also suggest that, when controlling for the overlapping variance of each component of multicultural experience, only contact with cultural members uniquely predicted less ethnic prejudice through stronger identification with humanity. While these relationships are significant, it must be noted they are relatively weak in size, particularly associations with the single-item measure of identification with humanity. We address this potential limitation in the following study.

Study 2

The purpose of Study 2 was to replicate and extend our findings while improving upon several limitations of Study 1. First, we used a more representative sample of United States adults rather than undergraduate participants. Second, in order to extend our findings and assess the generalizability of our model, we operationalized prejudice as negative attitudes toward immigrants and measured this with the validated Negative Attitudes toward Immigrants Scale (Varela, Gonzalez Jr., Clark, Cramer, & Crosby, 2013). Finally, we used a more psychometrically valid measure of identification with humanity, the IWAH (McFarland et al., 2012), instead of only the single-item measure of self-other overlap from Study 1. Initially McFarland and colleagues (2012) discovered a unidimensional structure of the IWAH, but recent evidence suggests the scale consists of two related, but distinct, factors (McFarland & Hornsby, 2015; Reese, Proch, & Finn, 2015). The global self-definition subscale reflects one’s identification with and perceived membership in the human category, whereas the global self-investment subscale reflects active concern for and desires to help the global community. In other words, the former subscale measures identification and the latter behavioral intentions. Given we were primarily interested in self-identification, we selected the items most relevant to the global self-definition subscale (see below).

Method

Participants and Procedure

Prior to data collection, we again sought a sample of 300 adult participants. Three hundred participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk participated in an online study about public opinion and social perception in exchange for monetary compensation ($0.70). Three participants were excluded for failing an attention check (e.g., “This is an attention check item. Please select ‘at least once’ for your answer.”), as well as two participants for giving a response three standard deviations from the mean on the measure of prejudice (see below). This left a final sample of 295 participants for analyses (54% female, 72% White; Mage = 31.17 years, SD = 9.67). After providing informed consent, participants completed randomly presented measures of self-reported multicultural experiences, identification with humanity, immigrant prejudice, and several additional measures unrelated to the present study. After completion of the survey, participants were thanked and compensated for their time.

Measures

Multicultural Experiences

Because the bidimensional structure of the multicultural experience measure was first cross-validated on an undergraduate sample in Study 1, we wanted to confirm this structure in a sample of nonstudent adults. We conducted a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) using AMOS 20 software on the 13-item measure of multicultural experiences (for more information, see Electronic Supplementary Material, ESM 1). However, the bidimensional structure provided a poor fit to the data, χ2/df = 173.15/63 = 2.75, p < .001, CFI = 0.90, RMSEA = 0.08 (see Tabachnick & Fidell, 2013). Using a PCA, we reexamined the item-component loadings and subsequently removed items 5 and 8 for cross-loading on both components, and item 6 for failure to load on either component (see Table 1). In a second CFA, the modified bidimensional structure of multicultural experiences provided a good fit to the data, χ2/df = 71.02/33 = 2.15, p < .001, CFI = 0.96, RMSEA = 0.06. “Experiences with cultural elements” (items 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13) and “contact with cultural members” (items 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7) possessed good internal consistency (α = .80 and .70, respectively), and the two components were positively correlated, r = .39, p < .001.

Identification With Humanity

To provide a more psychometrically valid measure of identification with humanity, we consulted the IWAH scale (McFarland et al., 2012). We selected the first four items of the IWAH (see McFarland & Hornsby, 2015; McFarland et al., 2012) and adapted two additional items (“How much do you feel a part of…,” “How much do you feel connected to…”) asking the extent to which participants identified with “humans all over the world.”1 All six items were answered on 1–5 scales using varying anchors (see ESM 1). We also used the same self-other overlap item from Study 1 (“How much overlap do you see between yourself and all of humanity”) because a similar item was used in the IWAH. This seventh item was answered on a different 1–7 scale, and thus all seven items were standardized before creating a composite. Together, these seven items each loaded highly on a single factor (eigenvalue: 4.50, variance explained: 64.28%) and were averaged to create a reliable index of identification with humanity (α = .91).

Immigrant Prejudice

Prejudice toward immigrants was assessed using the 12-item Negative Attitudes Toward Immigrants Scale (NATIS; Varela et al., 2013). Example items include, “Immigrants are not as smart as Americans,” and “Immigrants should be given the same rights as native citizens” (reverse-scored). Responses were made on 1 (= strongly disagree) to 7 (= strongly agree) scales and averaged to provide an index of immigrant prejudice (α = .94).

Results

Descriptive statistics and bivariate correlations are reported in Table 3. We hypothesized multicultural experiences would predict less immigrant prejudice through identification with humanity. The data analytic approach was the same as in Study 1, including mediation analyses conducted with 95% bias-corrected confidence intervals based on 5,000 bootstrap samples.

Table 3 Descriptive statistics and bivariate correlations among variables in Study 2

Mediation Analyses

Results again supported our predictions. Experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members were negatively associated with immigrant prejudice and positively associated with identification with humanity, and identification with humanity was negatively associated with immigrant prejudice. The indirect effects of both components of multicultural experiences on immigrant prejudice through identification with humanity were significant, experiences with cultural elements (see Figure 3): β = −0.16, SE = 0.04, 95% CI [−0.23, −0.09], > 99% observed power of the indirect effect; contact with cultural members: β = −0.09, SE = 0.03, 95% CI [−0.15, −0.05], 97% observed power of the indirect effect. When accounting for the indirect effect of identification with humanity, the direct effect of experiences with cultural elements on immigrant prejudice remained significant, suggesting partial mediation, β = −0.20, SE = 0.06, 95% CI [−0.32, −0.09], p < .001; but the direct effect of contact with cultural members on immigrant prejudice was reduced to marginal significance, β = −0.10, SE = 0.05, 95% CI [−0.21, 0.01], p = .07. In brief, our results suggest both components of multicultural experiences were associated with less immigrant prejudice through stronger identification with humanity (for an alternative model, see ESM 1).

Figure 3 Separate mediation models (Study 2) depicting the effects of experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members on immigrant prejudice through identification with humanity. All path coefficients are standardized and the total effects are listed in parentheses. ***p < .001, **p < .01.

Confirmatory Analyses

As in Study 1, we conducted a path model by covarying both components of multicultural experiences and drawing direct paths for all variables. Because contact with cultural members did not significantly predict identification with humanity (β = 0.05, p = .35) when controlling for experiences with cultural elements, we removed this direct path to gain the degrees of freedom needed to examine model fit. Using the same criteria as in Study 1, the proposed model provided an excellent fit to the data (see Figure 4), χ2/df = 0.86/1 = 0.86, p = .35, CFI = 1.00, RMSEA = 0.00 (see Tabachnick & Fidell, 2013).

Figure 4 Path model (Study 2) depicting the unique effects of experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members on immigrant prejudice through identification with humanity. All path coefficients are standardized and the total effect is listed in parentheses. Model fit: χ2/df = 0.86/1 = 0.86, p = .35, CFI = 1.00, RMSEA = 0.00. ***p < .001, **p < .01.

We next examined whether identification with humanity mediated the negative association between experiences with cultural elements and immigrant prejudice (while controlling for contact with cultural members in the same model). The indirect effect of experiences with cultural elements on immigrant prejudice through identification with humanity was significant, β = −0.15, SE = 0.03, 95% CI [−0.23, −0.09], p < .001, > 99% observed power of the indirect effect. When accounting for the indirect effect of identification with humanity, the direct effect of experiences with cultural elements on immigrant prejudice remained significant, suggesting partial mediation, β = −0.19, SE = 0.07, 95% CI [−0.31, −0.05], p = .01.

Discussion

Results from the current study largely replicate and extend those from Study 1. We examined the consistency of our findings with a nonstudent sample of United States adults, a different operationalization of prejudice (toward immigrants), and a more psychometrically valid measure of identification with humanity. Still, self-reported frequency of multicultural experiences – whether experiences with cultural elements or contact with cultural members – was positively associated with feeling connected to or perceiving family-like ties with humans all over the world, but negatively associated with prejudice toward immigrants. As in Study 1, both components of multicultural experiences predicted less immigrant prejudice through stronger identification with humanity.

In contrast to Study 1, however, results suggest that, when controlling for the overlapping variance of each component of multicultural experience, only experiences with cultural elements uniquely predicted less immigrant prejudice through identification with humanity. Contact with cultural members did not significantly predict identification with humanity or prejudice toward immigrants, an interesting finding given the robustness of the effect of intergroup contact on prejudice (Allport, 1954; Pettigrew, 1998; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006). A series of exploratory analyses (see ESM 1) suggest this difference between studies was not likely due to (1) the modification of the bidimensional measure of multicultural experiences, (2) a more psychometrically valid measure of identification with humanity, or (3) the age of the sample. While the pattern of findings remained the same when these changes were controlled in isolation of one another, simultaneously accounting for the combination of changes suggests each component of multicultural experience uniquely predicted identification with humanity (either significantly or marginally significantly). It must be noted, however, that despite taking these changes into account, experiences with cultural elements consistently had the stronger (and unique) association with identification with humanity and immigrant prejudice.

Another methodological change we were unable to examine further, however, was the different operationalization of prejudice between Study 1 (prejudice toward ethnic outgroups, such as Africans and Latin Americans) and Study 2 (prejudice toward immigrants in the United States). As a secondary goal in our final study, we keep the same measures of multicultural experiences, identification with humanity, and immigrant prejudice, and recruit from the same nonstudent adult sample, in order to examine whether each component of multicultural experiences uniquely predicts less immigrant prejudice through stronger identification with humanity.

Study 3

Our final study had two goals. The first was to extend previous findings by including a more specific operationalization of intercultural contact that accounts for both the quantity and quality of contact. Thus far, the measure of contact with cultural members used across studies does not address the quality of intercultural contact and how this influences identification with humanity (and, in turn, prejudice). As such, we include a more specific measure assessing both the quantity and quality of intercultural contact. Moreover, while our contact with cultural members component assesses frequency of intercultural contact, the scale was intended to capture this rather broadly. This includes, for example, items asking frequency and length of foreign travel, number of people living in different countries with whom one communicates, but also one’s ability to speak other languages. To further investigate the impact of intercultural contact on human identification and prejudice, a more nuanced measure of contact – at the interpersonal level – was necessary. Also, because it is not clear how concern for human rights develops (McFarland, 2015), we also included a measure of human rights concern in the present study. We hypothesized more frequent and positive intercultural contact would predict stronger identification with humanity which, in turn, would be associated with less prejudice and also stronger concern for human rights.

The second goal of Study 3 was to further investigate previous inconsistencies between Studies 1 and 2. This meant determining whether experiences with cultural elements or contact with cultural members (or both) exhibited unique and independent associations with human identification and, in turn, less prejudice. To address this question in the current study, we held constant our operationalizations of constructs, including the bidimensional measure of multicultural experiences, the 7-item measure of identification with humanity, and prejudice toward immigrants.

Method

Participants and Procedure

Due to budget constraints, we sought a slightly smaller sample of at least 275 adult participants. Two hundred seventy-nine participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk participated in an online study about public opinion and social perception in exchange for monetary compensation ($0.35). Four participants were excluded for failing an attention check (e.g., “This is an attention check item. Please select ‘at least once’ for your answer.”), as well as two participants for giving a response three standard deviations from the mean on a measure of intercultural contact (see below). This left a final sample of 273 participants for analyses (49% female, 75% White; Mage = 35.20 years old, SD = 10.70). After providing informed consent, participants completed randomly presented measures of self-reported quantity and quality of intercultural contact, multicultural experiences, identification with humanity, immigrant prejudice, and human rights concerns. Besides an exploratory item assessing humanitarian aid beliefs (see ESM 1), no other measures were presented in the study. After completion of the survey, participants were thanked and compensated for their time.

Measures

Quantity and Quality of Intercultural Contact

For a more specific operationalization of intercultural contact, we adapted items from previous research (Lolliot et al., 2015; Islam & Hewstone, 1993; Tam, Hewstone, Kenworthy, & Cairns, 2009) measuring both quantity and quality of contact with people from foreign cultures. Five items measuring quantity of intercultural contact (e.g., “In general, how much contact do you have with people from foreign cultures?” and “How much contact do you have with people from foreign cultures as close friends?”) were answered on 1 (= none at all) to 7 (= a great deal or = very often) scales. Three items measuring quality of intercultural contact asked, “In general, when you interact with people from foreign cultures, do you find the contact: unpleasant or pleasant, negative or positive, superficial or intimate?” Each item was answered on 1 (e.g., = very unpleasant) to 7 (e.g., = very pleasant) scales, with anchors varying as a function of the question phrasing. Responses were averaged to create indices of quantity of intercultural contact (α = .92) and quality of intercultural contact (α = .81), which were positively correlated, r = .49, p < .001.

To assess the interaction between quantity and quality of intercultural contact, a multiplicative index of contact quantity and quality was calculated. As done in previous research (e.g., Brown, Maras, Masser, Vivian, & Hewstone, 2001; Tam et al., 2009; Voci & Hewstone, 2003), multiplying contact quantity by quality assesses these two dimensions of intergroup contact simultaneously. The product of this interaction can be thought of as positive intercultural contact, with higher scores indicating more frequent and positive contact with those from foreign cultures.

Multicultural Experiences

Given the modification of the bidimensional multicultural experience measure in Study 2, we conducted a final CFA using AMOS 20 software on the trimmed 10-item measure (for more information, see ESM 1). Replicating the findings of Study 2, the bidimensional structure of the trimmed multicultural experience measure provided a good fit to the data, χ2/df = 61.68/33 = 1.87, p < .01, CFI = 0.97, RMSEA = 0.06 (see Tabachnick & Fidell, 2013). Averaging together responses provided indices of experiences with cultural elements (α = .83) and contact with cultural members (α = .74), and the two components were positively correlated, r = .42, p < .001.

Identification With Humanity

The same seven items from Study 2 were used, which were each standardized and averaged to provide an index of identification with humanity (α = .91). All items loaded highly on a single factor (eigenvalue: 4.63, variance explained: 66.14%).

Immigrant Prejudice

Prejudice toward immigrants was measured using the same 12-item scale from Study 2, and responses were averaged to provide an index of immigrant prejudice (α = .96).

Human Rights Concern

Three items from previous research (Hackett et al., 2015) were used to measure concern for human rights, including “I feel informed about human rights issues,” “American citizens should donate a portion of their income to human rights organizations,” and “I wish there was more information available to me about opportunities to become involved in human rights organizations.” All items were answered on the same 1 (= strongly disagree) to 7 (= strongly agree) scale, and responses were averaged to provide an index of human rights concern (α = .66).

Results

All descriptive statistics and bivariate correlations are reported in Table 4. Of note is the strong and positive correlation between our measure of contact with cultural members and quantity of intercultural contact, r = .57, p < .001. Experiences with cultural elements and quantity of intercultural contact were also strongly and positively correlated, though slightly weaker in magnitude, r = .51, p < .001. This provides evidence to suggest our broad measure of contact with cultural members strongly overlaps with a more specific measure assessing frequency of interpersonal contact with people from foreign cultures. The results section is separated into two sections per the goals of extension and replication, respectively, and the same analyses as in Studies 1 and 2 were conducted accordingly.

Table 4 Descriptive statistics and bivariate correlations among variables in Study 3

Goal I: Extension

To extend previous findings, we examined whether frequent, positive intercultural contact predicted less immigrant prejudice and greater concern for human rights through identification with humanity (for additional analyses, see ESM 1).

Mediation Analyses

Results supported our hypotheses. Positive intercultural contact predicted less immigrant prejudice through stronger identification with humanity, β = −0.13, SE = 0.04, 95% CI [−0.22, −0.05], 91% observed power of the indirect effect; and also greater concern for human rights, β = 0.16, SE = 0.04, 95% CI [0.09, 0.25], > 99% observed power of the indirect effect (see Figure 5). When accounting for the indirect effect of identification with humanity, the direct effect of positive intercultural contact on immigrant prejudice was reduced to nonsignificance, suggesting full mediation, β = −0.09, SE = 0.07, 95% CI [−0.22, 0.05], p = .21, but the direct effect of positive intercultural contact on concern for human rights remained significant, suggesting partial mediation, β = 0.34, SE = 0.06, 95% CI [0.22, 0.45], p < .001.2

Figure 5 Separate mediation models (Study 3) depicting the effect of positive intercultural contact on immigrant prejudice and human rights concern through identification with humanity. All path coefficients are standardized and the total effects are listed in parentheses. ***p < .001.

Goal II: Replication

In order to examine the replicability of our findings, we conducted analyses identical to those in Study 2 (for an alternative model, see ESM 1).

Mediation Analyses

Replicating previous findings, both experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members predicted less immigrant prejudice through stronger identification with humanity, experiences with cultural elements (see Figure 6): β = −0.08, SE = 0.03, 95% CI [−0.14, −0.03], 98% observed power of the indirect effect; contact with cultural members: β = −0.10, SE = 0.03 95% CI [−0.16, −0.05], 99% observed power of the indirect effect. When accounting for the indirect effect of identification with humanity, the direct effect of experiences with cultural elements on immigrant prejudice remained significant, suggesting partial mediation, β = −0.13, SE = 0.06, 95% CI [−0.25, −0.01], p = .04; whereas the direct effect of contact with cultural members on immigrant prejudice was reduced to nonsignificance, suggesting full mediation, β = −0.04, SE = 0.06, 95% CI [−0.16, 0.09], p = .56.3

Figure 6 Separate mediation models (Study 3) depicting the effects of experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members on immigrant prejudice through identification with humanity. All path coefficients are standardized and the total effects are listed in parentheses. ***p < .001, **p < .01, *p < .05
Confirmatory Analyses

As in previous studies, we conducted a path model by covarying both components of multicultural experiences and drawing direct paths for all variables. However, both experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members, which did not uniquely predict identification with humanity in Study 2, uniquely predicted identification with humanity in the present study. We therefore removed the nonsignificant direct path from contact with cultural members to immigrant prejudice and instead drew it to identification with humanity. Using the same criteria as in previous studies, this model provided an excellent fit to the data (see Figure 7), χ2/df = 0.02/1 = 0.02, p = .90, CFI = 1.00, RMSEA = 0.00.

Figure 7 Path model (Study 3) depicting the unique effects of experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members on immigrant prejudice through identification with humanity. All path coefficients are standardized and the total effect is listed in parentheses. Model fit: χ2/df = 0.02/1 = 0.02, p = .90, CFI = 1.00, RMSEA = 0.00. ***p < .001, **p < .01, *p < .05.

Given both components of multicultural experiences uniquely predicted identification with humanity, and identification with humanity predicted less prejudice toward immigrants, it suggests both experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members might uniquely predict less immigrant prejudice through identification with humanity.

Results supported this reasoning. While controlling for the overlapping variance of experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members, the indirect effects of both components of multicultural experiences on immigrant prejudice through identification with humanity were significant, experiences with cultural elements: β = −0.05, SE = 0.02, 95% CI [−0.10, −0.02], p < .01, 90% observed power of the indirect effect; contact with cultural members: β = −0.07, SE = 0.03, 95% CI [−0.13, −0.03], p < .01, 97% observed power of the indirect effect. When accounting for the indirect effect of identification with humanity, the direct effect of experiences with cultural elements on immigrant prejudice remained significant, suggesting partial mediation, β = −0.13, SE = 0.07, 95% CI [−0.25, −0.001], p = .048. Because the direct effect of contact with cultural members on immigrant prejudice was not significant (β = 0.01, p = .90) but the indirect effect through identification with humanity was, it suggests the unique association between contact with cultural members and immigrant prejudice was fully mediated by identification with humanity.

Discussion

The goals of Study 3 were twofold: to replicate and extend findings from previous studies. Regarding the latter, results suggest a more specific measure – assessing both the frequency and positivity of intercultural contact – was positively associated with identification with humanity, negatively associated with immigrant prejudice, but also positively associated with concern for human rights. Moreover, the association between positive intercultural contact and less immigrant prejudice was fully mediated by identification with humanity, whereas the association between positive intercultural contact and greater concern for human rights was partially mediated by identification with humanity. The current study expands our knowledge on the importance of frequent, high-quality contact with people from foreign cultures and its impact on seeing oneself as a member of the human family. Stronger identification with humanity, in turn, was associated with more tolerant attitudes toward immigrants and a stronger commitment to ensuring rights for all humans.

Regarding our goal of replication, results again suggest self-reported frequency of multicultural experiences – whether experiences with cultural elements or contact with cultural members – was positively associated with human identification and negatively associated with prejudice toward immigrants. Moreover, this negative association between both components of multicultural experiences and immigrant prejudice was mediated by identification with humanity. When the overlapping variance of each component of multicultural experiences was controlled, experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members both uniquely predicted identification with humanity and, in turn, less prejudice toward immigrants. At first glance, these results are also different from previous studies. However, our investigation into the replicability of findings indicates that, across two out of three studies, experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members are both important factors for understanding multicultural experiences, each showing unique and independent associations with identification with humanity and, in turn, immigrant prejudice.

“Mini” Meta-Analysis of the Association Between Experiences With Cultural Elements/Contact With Cultural Members and Prejudice

To date (and to our knowledge), four studies have measured two separate components of multicultural experiences (i.e., experiences with cultural elements, contact with cultural members) and their impact on prejudice. Using the three studies from the present research and one from Sparkman and colleagues (2016, Study 1), we conducted a “mini” meta-analysis (Goh, Hall, & Rosenthal, 2016) to examine the overall direction, strength, and significance of the relationship between experiences with cultural elements/contact with cultural members and prejudice. Here, we focus only on quantity rather than quality of multicultural experiences. First, we meta-analyzed the target studies (N = 4) using a fixed-effects approach, weighting effects by sample size. Because Study 3 of the present research contained two different measures of contact quantity, we averaged effects together to reflect their conceptual overlap (see Goh et al., 2016). Using Pearson’s r as the meta-analytic effect size, results (total N = 1,015) suggest the association between experiences with cultural elements and prejudice was negative, medium in size, and significant, Mr = −.30, Z = −9.26, p < .001. Additionally, the association between contact with cultural members and prejudice was negative, small-to-medium in size, and significant, Mr = −.20, Z = −6.36, p < .001. The effects also remained significant when using a random-effects approach, as indicated by a one-sample t-test of the meta-analyzed effect size against zero, experiences with cultural elements: Mr = −.29, t(3) = −8.60, p < .01; contact with cultural members: Mr = −.20, t(3) = −5.79, p = .01. Whether using fixed- or random-effects, the negative association between experiences with cultural elements and prejudice was stronger than contact with cultural members, Zfixed-effects = −2.40, p = .016; Zrandom-effects = −2.16, p = .031.

General Discussion

In the present research, we examined whether identification with a superordinate category – all of humanity – mediated the association between multicultural experiences and less prejudice and greater concern for human rights. We hypothesized both the quantity and quality of multicultural experiences, defined and measured as direct or indirect experiences with the cultural elements of foreign cultures and/or contact with their members (Leung et al., 2008; Sparkman et al., 2016), would predict the extent to which people identify with humanity. This is consistent with our thinking that multicultural experiences reveal the human universals of all people (Brown, 1991) – regardless of culture – that ultimately point to our shared, common fate as human beings. Seeing oneself as part of a more inclusive human identity, in turn, should be associated with less prejudice toward a range of outgroups (e.g., Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000, 2012) and stronger concern for the rights of all humanity.

Results from three studies confirmed our hypotheses. Quantity of multicultural experiences – whether experiences with cultural elements or contact with cultural members – predicted less ethnic (Study 1) and immigrant prejudice (Studies 2 and 3) through stronger identification with humanity. Extending our findings, we also show frequent, positive contact with people from foreign cultures predicted less immigrant prejudice and greater human rights concern through stronger identification with humanity (Study 3; for additional analyses, see ESM 1). Given the consistent overlap between experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members, we were curious to examine how controlling for their overlapping variance influenced the pattern of findings. While the results were sometimes different between studies, the overall pattern of findings suggests experiences with cultural elements (Studies 2 and 3) and contact with cultural members (Studies 1 and 3) each showed unique and independent associations with less prejudice through identification with humanity.

Importantly, these findings remained (1) whether we used a broad measure of contact with cultural members assessing frequency and length of foreign travel (Studies 1–3) or a more fine-grained measure assessing interpersonal contact with people from foreign cultures (Study 3); (2) whether we used a single, self-other overlap item representing identification with humanity (Study 1) or a more psychometrically valid measure (IWAH; Studies 2 and 3), (3) whether we operationalized prejudice as negative attitudes toward ethnic outgroups (Study 1) or immigrants (Studies 2 and 3), and (4) whether we sampled undergraduates (Study 1) or nonstudent adults from the United States (Studies 2 and 3). Thus, across a range of methodological variations, our findings consistently suggest the quantity and quality of multicultural experiences predict stronger identification with humanity and, in turn, less outgroup prejudice and greater concern for human rights.

Expanding Research on Identification With Humanity and Intergroup Contact Theory

These findings make several important contributions to the literature. First, we expand our knowledge of the potential roots of identification with humanity by providing preliminary (but correlational) evidence to suggest contact and experiences with other cultures may breed stronger identification with the human category. This idea has been the subject of recent speculation (e.g., see McFarland, 2011, 2016) but never tested. Other theoretically derived hypotheses, including identification with humanity representing an aspect of Maslow’s “self-actualization,” parental practices in socializing children, and religiosity, have received little empirical support (McFarland, 2016; McFarland et al., 2013). Moreover, we situate our hypotheses regarding the relationship between intercultural contact and identification with humanity within a broader theoretical framework on intergroup relations and prejudice reduction. Research within intergroup contact theory, for instance, has shown contact can change the cognitive representation of outgroups from exclusive “us” versus “them” to a more inclusive “we” (e.g., Gaertner et al., 1996; Pettigrew, 1998). The “human” category is but one example of such an inclusive cognitive representation (arguably the most inclusive; Turner et al., 1987), wherein former outgroups become included within an all-encompassing ingroup (see McFarland et al., 2013). Thus, perhaps one reason the Identification With All Humanity (IWAH) scale is consistently negatively correlated with prejudice and positively correlated with human rights concerns is because it captures individual differences in the extent to which people chronically recategorize at the level of humanity (also see McFarland et al., 2012).

By focusing on multicultural experiences, the present research also expands our knowledge on intergroup contact theory and its implications for prejudice reduction. An important contribution of new research focusing on how multicultural experiences reduce prejudice and improve intergroup relations (e.g., Sparkman et al., 2016; Tadmor et al., 2012) is its ability to expand the traditional scope of intergroup contact theory. Since early formulations of the theory, intergroup contact research typically focuses on whether interactions between group members within the same country or society (e.g., Allport, 1954; Hewstone et al., 2005; Hodson & Hewstone, 2013) can improve intergroup attitudes and behavior. Multicultural experiences, however, focus on a broader level of interaction between groups from foreign cultures that typically do not reside within the same country or society (e.g., Sparkman et al., 2016).

While research on multicultural experiences expands the typical scope of intergroup contact research, it also provides a more nuanced examination of the content of intergroup interactions. Interpersonal interactions between group members are an important feature of contact, but it is not the only way people can interact with different cultures. In addition to interpersonal contact with members of foreign cultures, research on multicultural experiences also examines non-interpersonal contact with the cultural elements of foreign cultures (e.g., actively engaging with the cuisine, music, or social norms; Leung et al., 2008; Tadmor et al., 2012). Meta-analytic evidence from the present research and one previously published study (see Sparkman et al., 2016, Study 1) suggests experiences with cultural elements has a stronger negative association with prejudice (−.30) than contact with people from foreign cultures (−.20). We find these results promising (albeit preliminary) given Pettigrew and Tropp’s (2006) meta-analysis of the intergroup contact literature, showing the overall association between contact and prejudice (−.215) was roughly equal in size as the present “mini” meta-analysis (−.20).

Why might engaging with the elements of different cultures have a stronger impact on prejudice reduction than interacting with the people of those cultures? Social psychological approaches to prejudice reduction have primarily focused on prejudice at the individual level, such that reducing prejudice within enough individuals can ultimately reduce prejudice across society. But others have argued this person-to-person approach to prejudice reduction is less effective and should be replaced by a broader, more sociocultural approach (e.g., Adams, Edkins, Lacka, Pickett, & Cheryan, 2008; Plaut, 2010). Such an approach suggests individuals and groups are inextricably embedded within dynamic, cultural systems of meaning – or intentional worlds (Shweder, 1990). Experiencing the varied sociocultural realities of other people provides social, cultural, and historical meaning to the dynamic institutions, status relations, and cultural norms and values of groups (for a review, see Plaut, 2010; also see, e.g., Adams et al., 2008; Salter & Adams, 2016). Thus, perhaps the reason why experiencing the cultural elements of foreign cultures has a stronger impact on prejudice is because engaging with the art, cuisine, norms, and values of foreign cultures provides underlying, contextual meaning to the daily instantiations of others’ sociocultural systems (e.g., attitudes, behaviors, interaction styles).

Limitations and Future Directions

Although the present research makes several important contributions, it is not without its limitations. We provide preliminary evidence in line with our hypothesized model, which tested whether multicultural experiences can influence identification with humanity and, in turn, expressions of prejudice and concern for others. However, it must be clear that the data in the present research are all correlational and therefore unable to establish causality. An alternative account of the data is that the relationship between multicultural experiences and identification with humanity is bidirectional (e.g., McFarland, 2016). Indeed, this alternative mediation model – in which identifying with humanity predicts more frequent multicultural experiences and, in turn, less prejudice – was also generally supported across studies (see ESM 1). While the indirect effect of this alternative model was generally weaker in strength than the indirect effect of the hypothesized model, it does not (and statistically cannot) imply the proposed mediation model is more plausible or accurate than the alternative (see Thoemmes, 2015). As such, future research would do well to investigate whether experimentally manipulating a multicultural experience increases identification with humanity and, in turn, reduces prejudice. Likewise, future research could also examine whether priming human identification increases the allure of multicultural experiences (which, if acted upon, may ultimately reduce prejudice)

Another limitation of the present work is the possibility our results are confounded by personal wealth or socioeconomic status – variables for which we did not control. Although our measure of contact with cultural members, in particular, was intended to be a rather broad index of frequency of cultural contact, the items of the subscale might also reflect individual differences in the amount of money people have to travel abroad. In Study 3, however, our inclusion of a more specific measure assessing frequency of interpersonal contact with those from foreign cultures – which did not include items measuring frequency and length of foreign travel – revealed a similar pattern of findings. While this does not rule out the possibility our results are due to socioeconomic status, it does suggest different operationalizations of “intercultural contact” yield similar findings. To be certain, future research should attempt to control for socioeconomic status and examine whether the pattern of findings remain.

Implied in our conceptual approach to the present research is the suggestion that contextual cues associated with multicultural experiences can facilitate ingroup perception (e.g., Turner et al., 1987) – at least to the extent perceptions of similarity and universal culture predominate over perceived differences. This is not explicitly tested in the present work, but future research should investigate whether the association between multicultural experiences and identification with humanity is moderated by perceived intercultural similarities (relative to differences), which, in turn, should predict less prejudice. Experimental work could examine this further, manipulating one’s focus on similarities (over differences) during a multicultural experience and measuring its impact on identification with humanity. Additionally, and in line with our correlational findings from Study 3, future research should investigate whether experimentally manipulating the positive valence of an intergroup contact experience increases the perception of an inclusive, superordinate ingroup (e.g., see Paolini et al., 2010).

As a final note to readers, we recommend future research investigating self-reported multicultural experiences use the trimmed, 10-item measure from the present work (rather than the original 13-item version; also see Sparkman et al., 2016). Principle components and confirmatory factor analyses suggest the short version of the measure provides a better fit to the bidimensional structure of the construct (see Table 1).

Conclusion

The rapid globalization of our world will continue to increase the diversity found not only within but between countries. As such, researchers must continue to find new ways to study and mitigate negative intergroup consequences of sharing a diverse and globalized space. Multicultural experiences present a promising avenue of research for accomplishing these goals, and results of past and present research indicate further examining multicultural experiences can help formulate new ways to improve intercultural relations across the globe. With this approach in mind, the present work is the first to examine the roots of identifying with all of humanity. We hypothesized and found that frequent, positive experiences of traveling abroad, interacting with those from foreign countries, and engaging with the art, music, and cuisines of different cultures were positively associated with seeing the self as part of the “human family.” In turn, it was this perception of the self as a member of the human family that was associated with more tolerance and care – for all of humanity.

Electronic Supplementary Materials

The electronic supplementary material is available with the online version of the article at https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000337

1To provide a stronger focus on the human category, we replaced the scale’s original phrasing of “people all over the world” with “humans all over the world.”

2Confirmatory path analyses were not conducted (as in Studies 1 and 2) because positive intercultural contact was the only independent variable in the model.

3Interpretation of findings is the same when examining whether experiences with cultural elements and contact with cultural members predict concern for human rights through identification with humanity.

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David J. Sparkman, 216 Memorial Hall, Department of Psychological Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 72701, USA,