The intergroup contact hypothesis presents a simple but remarkably powerful idea: that under the right conditions, social contact can improve tolerance and intergroup relations. This idea has been key to psychologists’ developing understanding of the nature of prejudice and one of the most successful and influential contributions to social issues research. Meta-analysis of more than 500 studies has confirmed the hypothesis: There is a fundamental, robust, and positive impact of contact on intergroup attitudes regardless of target group, age, geographical area, or contact setting.

While properly implemented intergroup contact therefore seems to improve intergroup relations, the approach is not without its limitations. It is apparent, for instance, that in many of the world’s most pervasive conflicts, a key problem is a lack of opportunity for contact. ...

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