Self-disclosure has been identified as necessary for the development of friendship. Initial research has indicated that there may be significant differences in the self-disclosure patterns of Catholics and Protestants. This study aims to examine the content and pattern of inter- and intra-denominational disclosure, and the implications for relational development for students at the University of Ulster. University in Northern Ireland often provides the primary environment for interaction with members of the opposite denomination for those young adults who continue into higher education, and therefore offers a unique experimental situation for research.
This investigation will advise on the milieu necessary for effective relational development between Catholics and Protestants. Research will examine and manipulate contextual influences on the development of friendship, and nature of change in behaviour and attitudes towards members of the in and out group, and measure their impact on the continuation of segregation. Conclusions will also be drawn as to the impact of contact on dimensions of culture and identity.
The study will use established methods of self-report questionnaire, focus group discussions, and experimental manipulation. There are a number of agencies upon whose training and policies this research may impact. The research will also advance theoretical understanding of conflict and prejudice. The findings will inform cross-community work, contact schemes, education systems, leisure and public policy makers, on the maximisation of their potential to integrate divided communities at a national and international level. PSEP funding will contribute to financing a research assistant for an 18 month period to facilitate data collection. Funding will also be used to purchase equipment for the project. Results will be disseminated in a series of publications and conference presentations.