Winter 2024 Newsletter

UMass Social Psychologists Create Toolkit for United Nations Group To Facilitate Social Mixing Programs That Promote Migrant Inclusion

icons of people's faces connected with arrows

Social psychologist Linda Tropp and social psychology graduate student Liora Morhayim have developed a toolkit, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to provide practitioners around the world with an accessible and practical overview of theory and research on social cohesion and intergroup contact.

The IOM, the leading migration agency within the United Nations system, has published the free, downloadable 123-page work, titled “Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating Impact of Social Mixing Programmes.” The IOM partnered with Tropp, an expert in intergroup contact, to create the toolkit because the value of facilitating “meaningful social mixing” among people from different racial, ethnic, religious and national backgrounds is increasingly recognized as relevant to the UN’s Global Compact on Migration and its broader goal of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies.

The toolkit explains how practitioners can apply psychological theory and research within social mixing programs to maximize their effectiveness, and it guides organizations on how to evaluate the impact of their programs on people’s perceptions and attitudes toward other groups.

“We hope civil society organizations (both those affiliated with IOM and beyond) will find the insights provided in this toolkit useful,” says Tropp, professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and faculty associate in the School of Public Policy.

“More than anything,” she adds, “we want to support practitioners in easing tensions and conflicts between social groups, and we want them to be able to gain insights from the research literature without having to read hundreds of academic articles. And, as much as possible, we want these practitioners and organizations to be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of their programs, so that they can continue to do this important work.”

Along with graduate students in her Intergroup Relations and Social Justice Lab, Tropp studies how members of different groups experience contact with each other, and how group differences in power and status can affect cross-group relations. For more than two decades, her work has sought to foster the dual goals of promoting positive relations between groups while achieving ever-greater levels of societal equality and justice.

The complete toolkit is available for download on the IOM website.