Reconciling Context and Contact Effects on Racial Attitudes

  • Stein R
  • Post S
  • Rinden A
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The inter-group contact hypothesis states that intera ctions between individuals belonging to different groups will influence the attitudes and behavior between members of these different groups. The two dominant measures of inter-group contact are context (i.e., size of a minority group within a specified geographic area) and individual behavior (i.e., personal contact between members of the majority and minority groups). The contextual and behavioral measures of contact produce divergent finings. The contextual contact literature finds that whites residing in areas with high concentrations of minority populations have significantly more negative attitudes toward minorities and minority-based public policies than whites residing in areas with low concentrations of minority poplations. The behavioral contact literature finds that inter-group contacing among majority and minority populations significantly reduces preudicial attitudes and opinions about minorities and minority-based policies. In this article we examine both contextual and behavioral meaures of the contact hypothesis as they influence white attitudes toward immigrant populations (i.e., Hispanics) and white policy positions toward immigration policies. We offer and test an explanation for the lierature's divergent findings.

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  • Robert M. Stein

  • Stephanie Shirley Post

  • Allison L. Rinden

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