This paper evaluates the state of contact hypothesis research from a policy perspective. Building on Pettigrew and Tropp's (2006) influential meta-analysis, we assemble all intergroup contact studies that feature random assignment and delayed outcome measures, of which there are 27 in total, nearly two-thirds of which were published following the original review. We find the evidence from this updated dataset to be consistent with Pettigrew and Tropp's (2006) conclusion that contact typically reduces prejudice. At the same time, our meta-analysis suggests that contact's effects vary, with interventions directed at ethnic or racial prejudice generating substantially weaker effects. Moreover, our inventory of relevant studies reveals important gaps, most notably the absence of studies addressing adults' racial or ethnic prejudices, an important limitation for both theory and policy. We also call attention to the lack of research that systematically investigates the scope conditions suggested by Allport (1954) under which contact is most influential. We conclude that these gaps in contact research must be addressed empirically before this hypothesis can reliably guide policy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Applied Psychology
- Political Science and International Relations