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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Reducing intergroup conflict through contact

Psychological Science

The world is a diverse place containing people of different races, ethnicities, and nationalities. This diversity, although beneficial in many ways, can also lead to tensions resulting in conflict between groups. Such strife occurs at every level of society, and the negative social and political outcomes it produces have led researchers to investigate ways to reduce conflict and prejudice. In a 2015 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, researchers Gunnar Lemmer and Ulrich Wagner (Philipps-University Marburg, Germany) examined the effectiveness of intergroup contact at reducing ethnic prejudice.

The intergroup contact theory is based on the idea that interactions between members of different groups help improve intergroup attitudes and reduce intergroup tensions and prejudice. Lab-based and real-world studies have examined the impact of different types of interactions — including face-to-face contact, indirect forms of contact, and virtual contact — at reducing prejudice between different ethnic groups. Researchers also have studied the efficacy of this type of intervention in minority- and majority-group members, as well as in regions where serious pre-existing or historical conflict exists.  

[...]  The researchers found that overall, intergroup contact interventions resulted in improved attitudes toward other ethnicities, when tested both immediately and up to 1 year later. Interventions using direct face-to-face contact, indirect contact, or a combination of the two were equally effective. When looking at specific types of contact intervention, the researchers found those using contact meetings (i.e., where people are brought together, usually through structured group discussions about intergroup relations), cooperative learning methods (i.e., where people are brought together to work toward a common learning goal that is not related to interethnic relations), and extended contact (i.e., where people are exposed to stories, videos, or plays that display positive relationships between ethnic groups) to be effective; however, the effectiveness of virtual contact programs (i.e., indirect interaction using computer-based systems) was not verifiable. 

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