Many racial/ethnic policies in the United States2014from desegregation to affirmative action policies2014presume that contact improves racial/ethnic relations. Most research, however, tests related theories in isolation from one another and focuses on black-white contact. This article tests contact, cultural, and group threat theories to learn how contact in different interactive settings affects whites' stereotypes of blacks and Hispanics, now the largest minority group in the country. We use multi-level modeling on 2000 General Social Survey data linked to Census 2000 metropolitan statistical area/county-level data. Net of the mixed effects of regional culture and racial/ethnic composition, contact in certain interactive settings ameliorates anti-black and anti-Hispanic stereotypes. Cultural and group threat theories better explain anti-black stereotypes than anti-Hispanic stereotypes, but as contact theory suggests, stereotypes can be overcome with relatively superficial contact under the right conditions. Results provide qualified justification for the preservation of desegregation and affirmative action policies.
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