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Contact in context: does intergroup contact function (better) in high-threat contexts?

Journal article
Authors Andrej Kokkonen
Peter Esaiasson
Mikael Gilljam
Published in Journal of ethnic and migration studies
Volume 39
Issue 4
Pages 634-652
ISSN 1369-183X
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 634-652
Language en
Keywords Contact hypothesis, prejudice, group threat, intergroup relations, European Social Survey, multilevel modelling
Subject categories Political Science


Are interpersonal contacts effective in reducing group threat and prejudice in all contexts? Studies have found that the contact effect is stronger in regions and countries where large immigrant populations contribute to high levels of contextual group threat This paper tests the robustness of the observed positive association between contextual-level group threat and contact effects by identifying three methodological reasons for why the association might be spurious: (1) a potential omitted variable bias; (2) a potential self-selection effect; and (3) a potential ceiling effect. Using the 2002 European Social Survey, we find that the positive association is indeed robust. We interpret this as evidence that contact effects are strongest in those European contexts where the need for improved intergroup relations between immigrants and natives is most dire.

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