Components of Intergroup Contact that Reduce Prejudice

Components of Intergroup Contact that Reduce Prejudice

Equal group status contends that intergroup contact should not have a hierarchical relationship.1 Examples of hierarchical relationships include dominant (White) group employers and subordinate (Black) group employees. To reduce prejudice, intergroup contact interactions should be comprised of different social group members of similar statuses. For example, field studies of public housing interventions where people of different races but similar socioeconomic status engaged in intergroup contact across various housing projects in New York City found more positive intergroup relations between Black and White residents.3

Allport contended that groups involved in intergroup contact interventions should share and engage in active efforts to achieve common goals that are non-competitive in nature.1 Service-learning offers a clear example. Service participants are required to form a collaborative environment in which they must define common community goals.5 Once these objectives are established, participants must engage in collaborative service interventions to achieve these goals.5

In addition to ensuring that intergroup contact members engage as equals, share common goals, and work collaboratively, intergroup contact must be accompanied by authoritative support from legal entities, organizational structure, or be part of customary practices. This condition fosters positive environmental support for improving prejudicial attitudes. If social group members perceive that authorities support intergroup contact; for example, law, educators/schools, or parents, and these entities establish acceptance norms, group members can interact in more favorable conditions, that support positive change.1 These structures can model and establish norms that foster intergroup engagement.They should also set expectations for differing groups to hold mutual respect and accept inter-group differences so that intergroup engagement is meaningful.6 Therefore, environments of codified segregation of groups are key drivers in fostering prejudice.1 Integrative legislation can play an essential role in creating acceptance norms, such as the Civil Rights Acts did in American society.4  Allport’s Intergroup Contact Theory has generated thousands of studies, books, and interventions that, when combined, corroborated and improved his work. See a guide for fostering meaningful intergroup relations here: A Guide to Building Bridges and Meaningful Connections Between Groups 



  1. Allport, G. (1954). The Nature of Prejudice. Addison-Wesley. 
  2. Kenworthy, J.B., Turner, R., Hewstone, M., & Voci, A. (2005) In John F. Docividio, Peter Glick, & Laurie A. Rudman (Eds.),  On the nature of prejudice fifty years after Allport. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing
  3. Pettigrew, T.F., & Tropp, L.R. (2006). A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(5), 751–783. 
  4. Pettigrew, T.F., & Tropp, L.R. (2005). Allport’s intergroup contact hypothesis: Its history and influence. On the nature of prejudice: Fifty years after Allport.
  5. Murphy, J.W., & Rasch, D. (2008). Service-Learning, Contact Theory, and Building Black Communities. Negro Educational Review, 59(1–2), 63–78.
  6. Dehrone, T.A., Tropp, L.R. (2022). Cultivating Contact. A Guide to Building Bridges and Meaningful Connections Between Groups. American Immigration Council.

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