Contact Hypothesis

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  • The proposal that under certain conditions, the direct contact of member of different groups (e.g., members of two ethnic groups) will improve their relationship. However, for contact to have this effect, it is proposed that the two groups need to be of equal status at the time of contact and that there need to be individual interactions among the members of the two groups. Furthermore, it is suggested that the two groups should have a common goal and, moreover, that cooperation is needed to reach that goal. The contact hypothesis predicted that school desegregation was going to result in a decrease in racism; although improved race relations did not immediately follow desegregation, it may be the result of the aforementioned conditions not being met.

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