Imagined intergroup contact (Crisp & Turner, 2009) is a new cognitive intervention designed to improve intergroup relations. In two studies, we examined whether it could also facilitate intercultural communication among international students and host country natives engaged in a college exchange program. In Study 1, international students who had recently arrived in Italy and participated in an imagined contact session displayed increased self-disclosure toward, and improved evaluation of, host country natives. In Study 2, Italian students mentally simulated positive contact with an unknown native from the host country prior to leaving for the exchange. Results from an online questionnaire administered on their return (on average, more than 7 months after the imagery task) revealed that participants who imagined contact reported spending more time with natives during the stay and enhanced outgroup evaluation, via reduced intergroup anxiety. Implications for enhancing the quality and effectiveness of college student exchange programs are discussed.
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