Intergroup contact is reliably associated with reduced prejudice, even in the face of group threat and discrimination

Jasper Van Assche*, Hermann Swart, Katharina Schmid, Kristof Dhont, Ananthi Al Ramiah, Oliver Christ, Mathias Kauff, Sebastiaan Rothmann, Michael Savelkoul, Nicole Tausch, Ralf Wölfer, Sarah Zahreddine, Muniba Saleem, Miles Hewstone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Intergroup contact provides a reliable means of reducing prejudice. Yet, critics suggested that its efficacy is undermined, even eliminated, under certain conditions. Specifically, contact may be ineffective in the face of threat, especially to (historically) advantaged groups, and discrimination, experienced especially by (historically) disadvantaged groups. We considered perceived intergroup threat and perceived discrimination as potential moderators of the effect of contact on prejudice. Two meta-analyses of correlational data from 34 studies (totaling 63,945 respondents-drawn from 67 subsamples across 19 countries) showed that contact was associated with decreased prejudice and increased out-group positivity, in cross-sectional and longitudinal designs, among advantaged and disadvantaged group members, and in both Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) and non-WEIRD contexts. Both perceived threat and perceived discrimination moderated the contact-attitude association, but in an unanticipated direction. Indeed, contact's beneficial effects were at least as strong among individuals high (r = .19) as among individuals low (r = .18) in perceived threat. Similarly, the effects of contact were at least as strong among those high (r = .23) as among those low (r = .20) in perceived discrimination. We conclude that contact is effective for promoting tolerant societies because it is effective even among subpopulations where achieving that goal might be most challenging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-774
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number6
Early online date9 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • Intergroup contact
  • Threat
  • Discrimination
  • Prejudice
  • Intergroup relations


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