Gazing Into the Crystal Ball: Are Majority Groups Threatened by a Minority-Majority Future?
By the mid to late 21st century, it is projected that ethnic European majority groups will account for less than half the total populations of many Western countries. As a result of this projected ethnic shift, these countries will become “minority-majority” nations. Three experiments were conducted in New Zealand to investigate how present-day majority group members (New Zealand Europeans) perceive and react to a projected minority-majority future. It was found that those exposed to a minority-majority future expressed greater feelings of ingroup sympathy than those presented with present-day demographic information. However, contrary to the findings of similar research conducted in North America, the minority-majority future was not associated with negative attitudes towards migrants or greater ingroup serving biases. When comparing two projected future conditions (New Zealand European-majority future vs. a minority-majority future), participants in the minority-majority condition expressed greater belief that the nation would possess more positive characteristics than those in the New Zealand European-majority condition. Additionally, the experimental condition was found to moderate the relationship between future expectations and present-day attitudes and action intentions. Depending on the strength of expectations for future societal dysfunction, development, and benevolence, participants in the minority-majority condition were more or less likely to engage in present-day pro-diversity actions or perceive diversity as threatening. Implications for theoretical research and New Zealand intergroup dynamics are discussed.