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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Richard Crisp

Crisp, Richard J. & Birtel, Michele D. (2014). Reducing Prejudice Through Mental Imagery: Notes on Replication, Interpretation, and Generalization. Psychological Science 25(3): 840-841.

Author(s) from Durham


Imagined intergroup contact (Crisp & Turner, 2009) is a new indirect contact strategy for promoting tolerance and more positive intergroup relations. McDonald, Donnellan, Lang, and Nikolajuk (2014) were unable to replicate the findings we obtained using a new variant of imagined contact (Birtel & Crisp, 2012). We commend the authors’ careful and systematic study, but we argue that their conclusion goes substantially beyond what their design, data, or context can justify. It overgeneralizes their finding to a field of more than 70 studies with multiple design variants and conceptual replications. Furthermore, the original study was designed not to test the efficacy of the basic imagined-contact effect, but rather to test the relative efficacy of different task variants. Therefore, we believe that it is more accurate to say that their study represents an important data point in efforts to identify moderators of imagined contact than to say that it provides data on the efficacy of the effect per se. We elaborate on these points and use this example to illustrate how direct replications and meta-analysis can be fruitfully combined to refine understanding of how imagined contact may most effectively reduce prejudice.