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Benjamin Fell


Postdoctoral Researcher

Research Summary

How do the effects and causes of negative contact compare with those of positive contact?

My research focus is on the effects of negative intergroup contact. During the past 60 years intergroup contact research has been characterised by a marked positivity bias. Only relatively recently have attempts been made to establish the effects of negative contact experiences with outgroup members. 

My current research aims include the development of a broadly applicable positive and negative contact experience questionnaire. Existing valenced contact inventories have seen only minimal use, and often suffer from significant limitations which need to be addressed (for example, the possible imbalance in salience or intensity of positive vs. negative experiences). 

I am also working on analyses of several existing data sets that have included some measure of negative contact, with a view to identifying the possible interactions between positive and negative experiences. Specifically, I am interested in whether positive contact can provide a 'buffer' to the detrimental effects of negative contact on attitudes; and conversely, whether negative contact could act to 'poison' positive contact, reducing its potential benefits. 

Finally, I am also running experimental studies to investigate the causality of negative contact. The current experiment involves measuring the longitudinal effects of engaging participants in an imagined contact scenario. 

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