Intergroup Contact

What is Intergroup Contact Theory?

Laya Bommireddy

Intergroup contact is most effective in reducing prejudice when members of different groups “share similar status, interests, and tasks…” 3

Superficial and stereotypical contact between different social group members reinforces prejudice2

Intergroup Contact Theory, otherwise known as the contact hypothesis, was proposed by Gordon Allport1 during the ”Jim Crow” era in the United States. Allport suggests that nurturing interpersonal contact between different social groups can reduce conflict and prejudice. But, he added, superficial and stereotypical contract between groups can reinforce prejudice.2 Therefore, intergroup contact is most effective in reducing prejudice “when [members of] the two groups share similar status, interests, and tasks and when the situation fosters personal, intimate intergroup contact”3 (p. 751-2). Allport’s original theory suggests that intergroup contact is most effective when four integrated conditions are met: equal group status, common goals, intergroup cooperation, and support from authority. The presence of these features during intergroup relations reduces prejudice and is distinguished from other types of contact where prejudices may be reinforced. For example, interactions between a male doctor and female nurse may not be compatible with intergroup contact theory between males and females since this context reinforces patriarchy or male dominance.

Components of Intergroup Contact that Reduce Prejudice

When and How does Intergroup Contact Reduce Prejudice?

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