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Beyond the Optimal Contact Strategy

Beyond the Optimal Contact Strategy The contact hypothesis proposes that interaction between members of different groups reduces intergroup prejudice if—and only if—certain optimal conditions are present. For over 50 years, research using this framework has explored the boundary conditions for ideal contact and has guided interventions to promote desegregation. Although supporting the contact hypothesis in principle, the authors critique some research practices that have come to dominate the field: (a) the prioritizing of the study of interactions occurring under rarefied conditions, (b) the reformulation of lay understandings of contact in terms of a generic typology of ideal dimensions, and (c) the use of shifts in personal prejudice as the primary measure of outcome. The authors argue that these practices have limited the contact hypothesis both as an explanation of the intergroup dynamics of desegregation and as a framework for promoting social psychological change. In so arguing, the authors look toward a complementary program of research on contact and desegregation. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Psychologist American Psychological Association

Beyond the Optimal Contact Strategy

American Psychologist , Volume 60 (7): 15 – Oct 1, 2005

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Publisher
American Psychological Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2005 American Psychological Association
ISSN
0003-066x
eISSN
1935-990X
DOI
10.1037/0003-066X.60.7.697
pmid
16221003
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The contact hypothesis proposes that interaction between members of different groups reduces intergroup prejudice if—and only if—certain optimal conditions are present. For over 50 years, research using this framework has explored the boundary conditions for ideal contact and has guided interventions to promote desegregation. Although supporting the contact hypothesis in principle, the authors critique some research practices that have come to dominate the field: (a) the prioritizing of the study of interactions occurring under rarefied conditions, (b) the reformulation of lay understandings of contact in terms of a generic typology of ideal dimensions, and (c) the use of shifts in personal prejudice as the primary measure of outcome. The authors argue that these practices have limited the contact hypothesis both as an explanation of the intergroup dynamics of desegregation and as a framework for promoting social psychological change. In so arguing, the authors look toward a complementary program of research on contact and desegregation.

Journal

American PsychologistAmerican Psychological Association

Published: Oct 1, 2005

References