Behavioural consequences of imagining intergroup contact with stigmatized outgroups

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We investigated whether imagining contact with an outgroup member would change intergroup behaviour. Participants who had imagined a positive interaction with an outgroup member or an unspecified stranger were told that they were about to take part in a discussion task with an outgroup member. They were taken to a room and asked to set out two chairs ready for the discussion while the experimenter left, ostensibly to find the other participant. The distance between the two chairs was then measured. Undergraduate students who imagined talking to an obese individual (Experiment 1) or a Muslim individual (Experiment 2) placed the chairs significantly closer than those in the control condition. They also reported more positive feelings and beliefs regarding Muslims. These findings highlight an important practical application of imagined contact: preparing people for successful face-to-face contact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-202
Issue number2
Early online date30 Aug 2011
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Communication
  • Cultural Studies

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