Intergroup contact and intergroup conflict
Hewstone M., Lolliot S., Swart H., Myers E., Voci A., Ramiah AA., Cairns E.
Intergroup contact theory is enjoying a renaissance; positive contact does reduce intergroup prejudice, but intergroup contact has generally been studied in relatively benign settings. With a number of countries either still experiencing or having just emerged from periods of pervasive intergroup animosity, contact theory is, nowadays, being put to its most stringent test as contact theorists try to uncover ways in which intergroup conflict can be reduced and reconciliation fostered. This article draws on research conducted at the Oxford Centre for the Study of Intergroup Conflict in countries including South Africa, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, and Bosnia. We report on our efforts to add to the emerging body of literature by (a) exploring the possible roles that direct and extended contact play in (post-) conflict societies; (b) asking when we might-or might not-expect contact to positively affect more demanding outcomes (such as intergroup trust and forgiveness); and (c) by investigating the processes by which contact achieves these outcomes. We then outline a research program that aims to further study both the benefits and limitations of intergroup contact in societies that are immersed in or emerging from protracted intergroup conflict. © 2014 American Psychological Association.