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Abstract

Returning from studying abroad, students are expected to be prepared for a highly internationalized working environment, showing positive attitudes toward interculturality and strong intercultural competence. Considering the reciprocal relationship between intercultural competence and intercultural contact, as well as the role of intergroup contact for social attitude formation, the current study provides and tests a theoretical frame on whether the experiences of intergroup contact while studying abroad might work as an agent of intercultural competence and xenophobia toward foreigners in one’s home country when returning home. Results show that motivational and cognitive intercultural competence have a significant relationship with quality of contact. Quantity of contact was significantly predicted by cognitive, behavioral, and metacognitive competence. Moreover, motivational and cognitive intercultural competence showed an indirect effect on xenophobia via contact quality. Against our assumptions, behavioral and metacognitive competence showed no relationship with contact quality. Moreover, contact quantity was not related to xenophobia. Furthermore, there was no interaction effect of contact quality and quantity on xenophobia, indicating that the amount of contact abroad is not necessarily important to the liberalizing effect of high-quality contact on xenophobic attitudes. The study thereby contributes to the understanding of the relationship of intercultural competence, xenophobia, and the role of intergroup contact.