Intergroup contact research in the 21st century: Lessons learned and forward progress if we remain open

Stefania Paolini*, Fiona A. White, Linda R. Tropp, Rhiannon N. Turner, Elizabeth Page-Gould, Fiona K. Barlow, Ángel Gómez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents the 2021 JSI special issue on intergroup contact, which we designed to offer a fresh outlook on a rapidly expanding literature on the antecedents, dynamics, and consequences of interactions between members of opposing groups in society—or intergroup contact. We start by discussing the results of a bibliographic search of intergroup contact research between 1937 and 2021 and organizing our analysis around two distinct phases of this research, as they are demarcated in volume and quality by Pettigrew and Tropp's landmark meta-analysis in 2006. We then turn our attention to an overview of the 12 review and commentary articles contributing to the special issue, which reflect advancements in themes, methodologies, and analytics of the last 15 years of research. We argue that this second generation of research has effectively addressed influential and legitimate critiques of the literature and, as a result, led to a more complex and nuanced understanding of intergroup contact that can now be readily harnessed by social cohesion practitioners and policy makers to increase the efficacy of contact-based interventions in society. We conclude by calling on a third generation of research on intergroup contact that fully harnesses diversity of ideas, peoples, and minds and keeps in close check unproductive dynamics that stifle scientific progress, and pose a threat to healthy and safe research communities. Together with the 50 diverse contributors of this special issue, we commit to making the intergroup contact research community, like the topic of intergroup contact itself, diverse and inclusive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-37
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Issue number1
Early online date09 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • General Social Sciences


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