European Journal of Social Psychology

Intergroup relations affect depressive symptoms of indigenous people: Longitudinal evidence


Fernando Pairican

Hanna Zagefka, Roberto González, Bernardo Mackenna, Diego Castro, Pia Carozzi


One thousand eight hundred thirty-five individuals who self-identified as Indigenous (with Mapuche being the largest group) participated in a two-wave longitudinal survey conducted in Chile with an 18 months lag. This was an approximately nationally representative sample of residents from culturally diverse communities. The aim of the study was to identify protective and adverse factors that are related to the development of depressive symptoms in Indigenous people. It was hypothesized that perceived social support would be negatively related to the development of depressive symptoms and that perceived discrimination would be positively associated with depressive symptoms, so that being on the receiving end of discrimination would make the manifestation of depressive symptoms more likely. Social support and perceived discrimination were themselves predicted to be affected by acculturation preferences and skin pigmentation. It was hypothesized that a positive acculturation orientation towards both the Indigenous group and members of non-Indigenous majority society would be associated with more perceived social support. Hence, preference for culture maintenance and preference for cross-group contact were expected to be positively related to social support. Further, it was hypothesized that darker skin pigmentation would be associated with more experiences of discrimination. Taken together, two processes were expected to affect depressive symptomatology: a protective effect of acculturation preferences mediated by social support and a deleterious effect of pigmentation mediated by experiences of discrimination. Results confirmed the predictions cross-sectionally but longitudinal effects were only found for the deleterious effect of pigmentation; the protective effect of acculturation preferences was notably weaker over time. These findings have both theoretical and applied implications.