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Intergroup contact as an agent of cognitive liberalization.

Hodson, G. and Crisp, R. J. and Meleady, R. and Earle, M. (2018) 'Intergroup contact as an agent of cognitive liberalization.', Perspectives on psychological science., 13 (5). pp. 523-548.


Intergroup contact is widely recognized as one of the most validated methods of improving attitudes toward out-groups. Yet what is intergroup contact “good for” beyond this function? To answer this question we take a panoramic view of the literature, beginning with the recognition that contact is multifaceted in both form (e.g., face-to-face, indirect, simulated) and outcome (e.g., attitudes, cognition, behavior). Taking this highly inclusive view of what contact is and what contact does suggests that it plays a fundamental role in the shaping of human cognition. An increasingly diverse body of research demonstrates that contact exerts a generalizing reaction across target out-groups, making respondents less inward looking and more open to experiences. Contact shapes ideology regarding how the world ought to operate (i.e., ideologies about social hierarchy or regulation); over time, it can promote new ways of problem-solving, enhance cognitive flexibility, and foster creativity. For these reasons, we believe that contact is a key liberalizing agent that shapes human cognition and experience; consequently, contact theory should now share the stage with other prominent theories (e.g., cognitive dissonance) that speak to a broader understanding of human nature.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:Hodson, G., Crisp, R. J., Meleady, R. & Earle, M. (2018). Intergroup Contact as an Agent of Cognitive Liberalization. Perspectives on Psychological Science 13(5): 523-548. Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.
Date accepted:12 December 2017
Date deposited:19 December 2017
Date of first online publication:13 July 2018
Date first made open access:19 December 2017

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