• Jasna Milošević Đorđević Faculty for Media and Communication, Singidunum University; Institute for Political Studies



social distance, contact, minority groups, Balkan countries, youth


Research on intergroup relations in the Balkans typically reveals low trust and high prejudice, even in the young generation born after the conflicts in the 1990s. The intergroup contact is documented to be an efficient means for prejudice reduction, and it is expected to work through enhancing perceived out-group heterogeneity. A total of 1046 young people aged 13 to 18 from five Balkan countries (Serbia, Montenegro, FYRoM, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo) were interviewed for the research. We registered their attitudes towards five minority groups: a dominant ethnic minority in the country, Roma population, gays/lesbians, and very poor and physically disabled people. We also registered their contacts with the out-group members and perceived heterogeneity of all five groups.

Data showed the similar pattern of social distance in all five Balkan countries: it was the highest towards gays and lesbians, followed by ethnic minorities and Roma population, whilst it was the lowest towards physically disabled and very poor people. However, the young people from Kosovo consistently reported somewhat higher distance towards all five groups. As expected, a path analysis revealed that more contacts with the out-groups led to a lower social distance both directly and indirectly, mediated by perceived out-group heterogeneity. We also registered a positive relation between ethnic identification and distance towards minority out-groups.

This research highlights the importance of fostering different types of intergroup contacts. It also suggests that it would be more informative if we broadened its scope, and investigate both ethnic, and other social groups, especially different types of stigmatized minorities.


Metrics Loading ...


Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Andersen, R., & Fetner, T. (2008). Economic inequality and intolerance: Attitudes toward homosexuality in 35 democracies. American Journal of Political Science, 52, 942‒958. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00352.x

Bajović, T. (2013). Post konfliktna demokratija: politička kultura studenata u Srbiji [Post-conflict democracy: political culture of students in Serbia]. In M. Blagojević, J. Jablanov Maksimović i T. Bajović (Eds.), (Post)sekularni obrt: Religijske, moralne i društveno-političke vrednosti studenata u Srbiji (pp. 199‒251). Beograd: Institut za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju, Fondacija Konrad Adenauer, Centar za evropske studije.

Bogardus, E. S. (1925). Measuring social distance. Journal of Applied Sociology, 9, 299‒308.

Brauer, M., & Er-rafiy, A. (2011). Increasing perceived variability reduces prejudice and discrimination. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 871‒881. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2011.03.003

Brown, R., & Cehajic, S. (2008). Dealing with the past and facing the future: Mediators of

the effects of collective guilt and shame in Bosnia and Herzegovina. European Journal of Social Psychology, 38, 669‒684. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.466

Brown, R., Condor, S., Mathews, A., Wade, G., & Williams, J. A. (1986). Explaining intergroup differentiation in an industrial organisation. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 59, 273–286.

Browne, M. W., & Cudeck, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In K. A. Bollen & J. S. Long (Eds.), Testing Structural Equation Models (pp. 136–162). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Byrne, B. M. (2001). Structural equation modeling with AMOS, EQS, and LISREL: Comparative approaches to testing for the factorial validity of a measuring instrument. International Journal of Testing, 1, 55–86.

CEDEM (2013). Etnička distanca u Crnoj Gori [Ethnical distance in Montenegro]. Center for European studies and CEDEM: Podgorica, Montenegro.

Cehajic, S., Brown, R., & Castano, E. (2008). Forgive and forget? Antecedents and consequences of intergroup forgiveness in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Political Psychology, 29, 351‒367. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9221.2008.00634.x

Cehajic, S., Brown, R., & Gonzales, R. (2009). What do I care? Perceived ingroup responsibility and dehumanization as predictors of empathy felt for the victim group. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 12, 715‒729. doi: 10.1177/1368430209347727

Davies, K., Tropp, L., Aron, A., Pettigrew, T., & Wright, S. (2011). Cross-group friendships and intergroup attitudes: A meta-analytic review. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15, 332‒351. doi: 10.1177/1088868311411103

Dhont, K., & Hiel, A. (2011). Direct contact and authoritarianism as moderators between extended contact and reduced prejudice: Lower threat and greater trust as mediators. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 14, 223‒237. doi: 10.1177/1368430210391121

Doosje, B., Branscombe, N. R., Spears, R., & Manstead, A. S. R. (1998). Guilty by association: When one’s group has a negative history. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 872–886. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.75.4.872

Dovidio, J., Gaertner, S., & Kawakami, K. (2003). Intergroup contact: The past, present, and the future. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 6, 5‒21. doi: 10.1177/1368430203006001009

Frančesko, M., Mihić, V., & Kajon, J. (2005). Socijalna distanca i stereotipi o Romima kod dece novosadskih osnovnih škola [Social distance and stereotypes about Roma people in elementary school children in Novi Sad]. Psihologija, 39, 167‒182.

Harwood, J., Paolini, S., Joyce, N., Rubin, M., & Arroyo, A. (2011). Secondary transfer effects from imagined contact: Group similarity affects the generalization gradient. British Journal of Social Psychology, 50, 180‒189. doi: 10.1348/014466610X524263

Herek, G. M., & Capitanio, J. P. (1996). "Some of my best friends": Intergroup contact, concealable stigma, and heterosexuals' attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 412‒424. doi: 10.1177/0146167296224007

Hetemi, A., Duri, I., & Haskuka, M. (2013). Public pulse 6 ‒ UNDP report for Kosovo. Retreived from

Hewstone, M. E., & Brown, R. E. (1986). Contact and conflict in intergroup encounters. Basil Blackwell.

Ivanov, J. (2008). Međuetnički odnosi na Balkanu u svetlu etničke i konfensionalne distance [Interethnic relations in the Balkans in light of ethnic and confessional distance]. In D. Đorđević & D. Todorović (Eds.), Kvalitet međuetničkih odnosa i kultura mira na Balkanu (pp. 59–76). Niš: Filozofski fakultet, Centar za sociološka istraživanja.

Kalaba, I. (2013). Čekajući regionalno pomirenje: student i nacionalizam u Srbiji [Waiting for the reconcilliation in the region: Students and nationalism in Serbia]. In M. Blagojević, J. Jablanov Maksimović, & T. Bajović (Eds.), (Post)sekularni obrt: Religijske, moralne i društveno-političke vrednosti studenata u Srbiji (pp. 199‒251). Beograd: Institut za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju, Fondacija Konrad Adenauer, Centar za evropske studije.

McGlothlin, H., & Killen, M. (2010). How social experience is related to children’s intergroup attitudes. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 625‒634. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.733

Mihić, V., & Mihić-Lisul, I. (2003). Ethnic distance in primary school children and their parents. Psihologija, 36, 167‒182.

Miladinović, S. (2008). Etnička i socijalna distanca prema Romima [Ethnic and social distance towards Roma people]. Sociološki pregled, 42, 417‒437.

Milošević, J. (2007). Primordialistic concept of national identity in Serbia. Psihologija, 40, 385‒397.

Pettigrew, T. (2009). Secondary transfer effect of contact. Social Psychology, 40, 55‒65.

doi: 10.1027/1864-9335.40.2.55

Pettigrew, T., Tropp, L., Wagner, U., & Christ, O. (2011). Recent advances in intergroup contact theory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35, 271‒280.

doi: 10.1016/j.ijintrel.2011.03.001

Puhalo, S. (2003). Etnička distanca građana Republike Srpske i Federacije BiH prema narodima bivše SFRJ [Ethnic distance citizens of the citizens of Republika Srpska and Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina to the nations of Former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia]. Psihologija, 36(2), 141‒156.

Puhalo, S. (2009). Etnička distancai (auto)stereotipi građana Bosne i Hercegovine [Ethnic distance and (auto)stereotypes in BiH citizens]. Sarajevo: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

Schmid, K., Hewstone, M., Kupper, B., Zick, A., & Wagner, U. (2012). Secondary transfer effects of intergroup contact: A cross-national comparison in Europe. Social Psychology Quarterly, 75, 28‒51. doi: 10.1177/0190272511430235

Spanovic, M., Lickel, B., Denson, T., & Petrovic, N. (2010). Fear and anger as predictors of motivation for intergroup aggression: Evidence from Serbia and Republika Srpska. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 13, 725‒739. doi: 10.1177/1368430210374483

Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In W. G. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.), The social psychology of inter group relations (pp. 33‒48). Chicago: Nelson-Hall.

Tausch, N., Hewstone, M., Kenworthy, J., Psaltis, C., Schmid, K., Popan, J., . . . Hughes, J. (2010). Secondary transfer effects of intergroup contact: Alternative accounts and underlying processes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 282‒302. doi: 10.1037/a0018553

Tropp, L., Hawi, D., Laar, C., & Levin, S. (2012). Cross-ethnic friendships, perceived discrimination, and their effects on ethnic activism over time: A longitudinal investigation of three ethnic minority groups. British Journal of Social Psychology, 51, 257‒272. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8309.2011.02050.x

Turjačanin, V. (2011). Socijalne distance u Republici Srpskoj [Social distances in Republic of Srpska]. In V. Turjačanin (Ed.), Tolerancija u društvu (pp. 37–80). Banja Luka: CKSP.

Vezzali, L., & Giovannini, D. (2012). Secondary transfer effect of intergroup contact: The role of intergroup attitudes, intergroup anxiety and perspective taking. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 22, 125‒144. doi: 10.1002/casp.1103

Voci, A., & Hewstone, M. (2003). Intergroup contact and prejudice towards immigrants in Italy: The mediational role of anxiety and the moderational role of group salience. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 6, 37–54. doi: 10.1177/1368430203006001011

Zagefka, H., & Brown, R. (2002). The relationship between acculturation strategies, relative fit and intergroup relations: Immigrant-majority relations in Germany. European Journal of Social Psychology, 32, 171–188. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.73




How to Cite