Intergroup Contact Can Be an Effect Strategy to Reduce Discrimination

631 Words3 Pages
Research over the last several decades has shown that intergroup contact can be an effective strategy to reduce discrimination. In 1954, Allport outlined four conditions for optimal contact; equal status in the situation, common goals, cooperation, and institutional support. Common goals and cooperation were later combined as interdependence by Sherif. Although these four factors may lead to optimal outcomes, depending on the situation, positive outcomes can be achieved even if all four factors are not satisfied. Moreover, the historical nature of the relationship between target groups defines which of the conditions will be the most important. If the historical nature of the relationship has been quite tense (such as groups that have overt histories of intergroup violence) then institutional support is the most important factor. However, for groups that have had less tense relations, interdependence is the most important factor in achieving a positive outcome. In addition, to Allport’s four conditions, contact over a long duration is also needed to achieve the best intergroup outcomes. If groups have had tense relations, institutional support is a necessary condition for advantageous intergroup contact. Because beneficial intergroup outcomes are only achieved through positive interactions, contact that causes anxiety or leads to physical and emotional violence must be avoided. Since it is likely for anxiety or violence to arise in natural contact situations between two groups that have had tense relations, institutional support may help restructure the interaction in a positive way. Institutions (laws, culture, officials, etc.) that are acknowledged by both groups can shift social norms to make contact between groups seem accep... ... middle of paper ... ...nce that may deviate from social norms, it can lead to anxiety. Due to anxiety, the first interactions between members from different groups may not be able to lead to a positive outcome. However, if contact is repeated multiple times it will allow individuals to establish a rapport (and potentially a friendship). As this happens, individuals become more accepting of the interaction and see a decrease in their anxiety over time. Therefore if contact is over a longer time span, the likelihood of a positive outcome increases. Depending on the situation, Allport’s four conditions for optimal contact may not all be necessary; for groups with a history of tense relations institutional support is needed, for groups with less tense relations interdependence is needed. Additionally, in order to achieve the best outcome, positive contact must occur over a long time period.

More about Intergroup Contact Can Be an Effect Strategy to Reduce Discrimination

Open Document