To examine why people are reluctant to engage in intergroup contact, the present study asked members of a nationwide online panel (N = 555) to imagine that they would get individuals of a particular social group as next-door neighbors. Respondents were randomly assigned to one of five different social groups hypothesized to differ in emotion-arousing potential: elderly people, people with mild or severe intellectual disability, economic refugees, and young offenders. It was found that differences in acceptance between these groups could be well explained by emotions aroused while anticipating contact yet less well by differences in previous contact with these groups. Furthermore, emotions appeared to be uniquely related to preferred interpersonal relationships. It is concluded that research on how to reduce prejudice through intergroup contact should be complemented with a better understanding of why people are reluctant to engage in such contact in the first place.
- contact hypothesis
- intergroup relations