Adolescent outgroup helping, collective action, and political activism in a setting of protracted conflict  

Laura K. Taylor*, Shelley McKeown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


This article examines the role of empathy for outgroup helping, collective action and political activism among youth in Northern Ireland, a setting of protracted conflict. Integrating the Empathy-Attitudes-Action model with the Developmental Peacebuilding Model, a two-wave study was conducted to assess youth’s behavioural intentions and actual behaviours toward refugees. Across two waves (N = 383, 52% male, 48% female; 14-16 years old), empathy at Time 1 predicted more positive attitudes toward ethnic minorities at Time 2, which in turn was positively related to four outcomes aiming to foster prosocial change for refugees: helping behaviour and realistic helping at the interpersonal level, collective action intentions at the structural level, and signing a petition aiming for cultural change. That is, outgroup attitudes mediated the link from empathy to three types of prosocial action toward refugees. The findings suggest that youth not only volunteer to help an individual outgroup member, but also support broader structural and cultural change that will benefit those they may never meet. Implications for recognising and supporting the constructive agency of youth toward disadvantaged groups in conflict settings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Early online date15 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Richard Benjamin Trust and the British Academy (BA)/Leverhulme [ SG 150807 ]. Thank you to Jeffrey Hanna, Alexandra Kenny, Clarissa Courtney, Lauren Brown, Dean O’Driscoll, Marion Schulz, Karolina Urbanska, Lukas Horstmeier, Sofia Chirtoglou and Yangjunru (Cecilia) Li for their support with data collection. Our deep appreciation to the numerous school administrators, teachers, and pupils for participating in this project. Any underlying research materials related to this paper can be accessed by contacting the first author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Psychological Approaches for Studying Education


  • Adolescents
  • prosocial
  • intergroup helping
  • refugees
  • ethnic minority
  • empathy


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