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Contact Theory

The contact that members of different groups (e.g., ethnic, religious, political) have in a society is critical for understanding political behavior pertaining to intergroup relations. Intergroup contact theory explains how close, positive contact experiences between members of different groups have the potential to foster political behavior that promotes harmony. According to the theory, contact between members of different groups reduces prejudice and fosters trust and cooperation in diverse societies. These positive effects are in contrast to the potentially negative effects of living or working near out-groups without engaging in close contact, such as in cities segregated across ethnic lines. Especially for members of groups that are of different relative status (e.g., White Americans interacting with Black Americans, citizens of a nation interacting with immigrants and ...

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