Intergroup Contact and Communication

Authored by: Jake Harwood , Nick Joyce

The Handbook of Intergroup Communication

Print publication date:  May  2012
Online publication date:  June  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415889643
eBook ISBN: 9780203148624
Adobe ISBN: 9781136513619


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When individuals from different social groups communicate with one another, their social identities (whether they be ethnic, age, gender, sexuality, religion, etc.) affect interpersonal perceptions and relationships, but also intergroup stereotypes and attitudes. These, by extension, affect intergroup relations. The potential positive effects of communication with outgroup members (members of groups to which you do not belong), have been theorized extensively within intergroup contact theory (Allport, 1954), and have seen extensive empirical support. Much of this research focuses on the psychological constructs that relate to contact, but the communication processes at work in intergroup contact are equally important. In this chapter, we provide an overview of research on contact theory from a socio-psychological perspective. This review will include discussion of psychological and communicative mediators and moderators of contact’s effects. We then consider extensions of contact theory’s scope, again with particular emphasis on communicative issues (e.g., mediated contact, relational communication). Finally, we present an extended epilogue discussing directions for future theory and research combining communication and intergroup contact.

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