The Society for the
Study of Social Issues


Joint SPSSI-EASP Small Group Conference 


Proactive Behavior across Group Boundaries:
Seeking and Maintaining Positive Interactions with Outgroup Members

November 30th – December 2nd 2012, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY

We have come to understand a lot more about the angry segregationist than we do about the traveler who cannot wait to immerse herself in a foreign way of life. Negative intergroup processes (prejudice, discrimination, intergroup conflict) have been a traditional focus of social psychological research. This is not surprising, given the widespread conception of groups as inherently competitive and “tribal” and the specific historical and political influences that shaped modern social psychology. However, we are left with only rather indirect and limited answers to the questions of when and why people develop curiosity about other groups, proactively engage in cross-group exploration, or show forms of prosocial behavior across group boundaries. Positive intergroup attitudes and behaviors cannot simply be extrapolated from low levels of prejudice or hostility.

Our conference objective is to inspire and advance research to help fill this gap. It will enhance our understanding of positive intergroup processes by bringing together researchers who investigate them from a variety of emerging perspectives. What leads people to seek and maintain positive interactions with outgroup members? What are the contributions to positive intergroup relations from different levels of analysis? What features of the ingroup, the outgroup, and the intergroup relationship foster or hinder positive intergroup interactions? We will pay special attention to the interplay of individual-level and group-level factors.

The meeting will take place November 30th to December 2nd 2012 at Stony Brook University. We will include up to 30 participants. About half will be from Europe and about half will be junior faculty or postgraduates. Participation fees will be offset by funding.
We anticipate publishing a special journal issue on the conference themes.

If you are interested in attending this meeting, please send an abstract (between 200-250 words) to the conference conveners: Todd Pittinsky (, Birte Siem (, and Stefan Stürmer ( by the deadline of May 25th, 2012. Please indicate in your application whether you are a member of SPSSI/EASP or not.


Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin