Humans adapt to social diversity over time

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

External organisations

  • University of Oxford
  • Princeton University


Humans have evolved cognitive processes favoring homogeneity, stability, and structure. These processes are, however, incompatible with a socially diverse world, raising wide academic and political concern about the future of modern societies.With data comprising 22 y of religious diversity worldwide, we show across multiple surveys that humans are inclined to react negatively to threats to homogeneity (i.e., changes in diversity are associated with lower self-reported quality of life, explained by a decrease in trust in others) in the short term. However, these negative outcomes are compensated in the long term by the beneficial influence of intergroup contact, which alleviates initial negative influences. This research advances knowledge that can foster peaceful coexistence in a new era defined by globalization and a socially diverse future.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12244-12249
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
Early online date9 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2019


  • social diversity, trust, intergroup contact, well-being, health