Intergroup Contact

Ulrich Wagner and Miles Hewstone

in The Oxford Handbook of Intergroup Conflict

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199747672
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Intergroup Contact


Intergroup contact can reduce prejudice between groups. However, the overwhelming number of publications supporting this claim come from societies in North America and Europe that are relatively free of violent intergroup conflict. After presenting the current state of research, we extend the perspective to intractable conflicts and the role of contact in reducing these kinds of conflicts. We do this by distinguishing between different phases for contact and contact effects, namely a previolence phase, a phase of physical violence, and a postviolence phase. Evidence shows that intergroup contact helps to prevent escalation of intergroup conflict and violence. In addition, recent surveys and interventions support the assumption that intergroup contact, after a phase of violence, can contribute to reconciliation in the form of reducing prejudice and increasing intergroup trust and forgiveness toward the outgroup. Very few studies focus on prior effects of intergroup contact on the conduct of violence, or on the reconciliation process after violence. Data are also sparse regarding effects of contact during phases of violence on postviolence reconciliation. We end with some critical reflections about shortcomings of the current state of research.

Keywords: Intergroup conflict; intergroup contact; prejudice; violence; intervention; reconciliation

Article.  13171 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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