Intergroup contact—(positive) interactions with people from different social groups—is a widely researched and strongly supported prejudice-reducing mechanism shown to reduce prejudice against a wide variety of outgroups. However, no known previous research has investigated whether intergroup contact can also reduce sexism against women. Sexism has an array of negative outcomes. One of the most detrimental and violent ones is rape, which is both justified and downplayed by rape myth acceptance. We hypothesised that more frequent, higher quality contact with counter-stereotypical women would predict lower levels of sexism and thus less rape myth acceptance (in men) and less sexualised projected responses to rape (in women). Two studies using online surveys with community samples supported these hypotheses. In Study 1, 170 male participants who experienced more positive contact with counter-stereotypical women reported less intention to rape. Similarly, in Study 2, 280 female participants who experienced more positive contact with counter-stereotypical women reported less projected sexual arousal at the thought of being raped. Thus, the present research is the first known to show that contact could be a potential tool to combat sexism, rape myth acceptance, intentions to rape in men, and sexualisation of rape by women.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 30, 2016
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