Publication details for Professor Richard CrispHodson, 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.
- Publication type: Journal Article
- ISSN/ISBN: 1745-6916, 1745-6924
- DOI: 10.1177/1745691617752324
- Further publication details on publisher web site
- Durham Research Online (DRO) - may include full text
Author(s) from Durham
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.