Stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination are all directly caused by negative touch. Intergroup interactions can therefore be improved by fostering positive contact and minimizing prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. Political, social, and religious groups throughout history have tried to improve their relationships with one another by seeking out like-minded individuals and organizations and by refusing to participate in activities that would cause tension or conflict with other groups.
Intergroup contact has been shown to reduce prejudice and increase tolerance for others. One study conducted at Stanford University found that moving between rooms with different smells (one smelling of coffee, the other of perfume) regularly reduced judgments about people based on physical attributes (i.e., skin color). It is believed that this phenomenon helps break down stereotypes by exposing participants to people who are different from themselves.
In addition to reducing prejudice against certain groups, intergroup contact has also been shown to increase cooperation between groups. In one experiment, researchers asked participants either to write about an experience they had with a member of a different group or to think about something that bothered them about members of their own group. Those who wrote about their experiences were more likely to help members of a different group when given the opportunity to do so later. This shows that contact with people from different groups makes us less likely to engage in self-interested behavior.
Intergroup Interactions Individuals who exhibit bias towards members of a group typically have negative perceptions about each of the group's members and consider the group members to be more similar to one another than is really the case. Individuals who exhibit bias against groups of people commonly view the members of different groups as being inherently unequal, with distinctions often based on ethnicity, religion, gender, or social class.
Prejudice is a strong emotion that drives us to judge others quickly and without thinking about the consequences. It makes us feel powerful when we reject someone based on their race, religion, gender, or other characteristics. However, prejudice can also get in the way of our learning about other people, especially when it comes to interacting with those from different groups. Prejudice can prevent us from understanding how others think and feel, which can hinder relationship building and success between groups.
There are two types of prejudice: implicit and explicit. Implicit prejudice is learned through experience and doesn't come to mind when thinking about particular groups of people. For example, studies show that individuals who have grown up in predominantly white communities tend to associate black people with pain and fear. This type of prejudice isn't seen as wrong or unfair; instead, it's considered normal. Explicit prejudice is stated or expressed hatred toward a group of people.
Our findings add to previous research on the association between intergroup interaction and bias, which has investigated the contact hypothesis. Allport (1954) proposed that pleasant and cooperative interaction between two antagonistic groups can lessen bias against the other group. More recent studies have also found support for this idea. For example, Killen et al. (2013) found evidence that experiencing multicultural education reduces anti-Muslim attitudes among students.
In our study, we found some evidence in favor of the contact hypothesis. Participants who made more intergroup contacts reported less prejudice toward both outgroups. This relationship was particularly strong for prejudice toward African Americans. There was no significant relationship between contact frequency and prejudice toward Latinos, which may be due to the low variability in contact frequencies among participants (see Table 1).
It is possible that the effect of contact on prejudice is stronger when contact is perceived as pleasant and cooperative rather than adversarial. Pleasant and cooperative interactions are more likely to occur between groups that have positive attributes in common, which may help reduce prejudice toward each other group. For example, participants who reported more contact with Latinos might also report more contact with Latino organizations or friends, which could help them see the positive aspects of these individuals and reduce prejudice toward them.
Intergroup interaction is typically found to have negative effects associated with intergroup bias, producing heightened stress, intergroup anxiety, or outgroup avoidance, whereas intergroup contact is typically found to have positive effects associated with intergroup bias, predicting lower intergroup anxiety and prejudice. However under certain conditions, intergroup interaction can also have positive effects.
Positive effects of intergroup interaction occur when contact between groups produces benefits for both parties involved. Examples include when group members learn from each other or build strong relationships through communication about common interests. This type of interaction is different from traditional intergroup contact because the groups still differ in some way that causes them to be separate; it is just that they interact positively with one another rather than negatively (as would be expected with groups that are equal in all respects). Positive effects of intergroup interaction have been observed in studies looking at its effect on prejudice reduction- e.g., students who work with disadvantaged children experience reduced levels of prejudice toward these children afterward- as well as studies looking at its effect on cooperation between groups-e.g., countries that trade more freely with one another tend to develop stronger relations overall.
Negative effects of intergroup interaction occur when contact between groups causes harm to one or both of them. Groups that experience negative effects of intergroup interaction may even withdraw from one another - i.e., go back to being separate groups again- due to increased tension caused by the interaction.