Beyond the optimal strategy: A 'reality check' for the contact hypothesis.

Dixon, John A. and Durrheim, Kevin and Tredoux, Colin (2005) Beyond the optimal strategy: A 'reality check' for the contact hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60 (7). pp. 697-711. ISSN 1935-990X

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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.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
American Psychologist
Additional Information:
Dixon was first and lead author. He wrote the article, which draws together several themes in his collaborative work with Durrheim and Tredoux. The article was also based on research that was co-funded by grants awarded to Dixon by the ESRC (RES-000-22-0396) and the British Academcy (SG-32306) RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Psychology
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Deposited On:
10 Mar 2008 15:17
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2023 03:55