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Title: The interaction of positive and negative intergroup contact
Author: Fell, Benjamin Frederick
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 6291
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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In the sixty years following Allport's (1954) formulation of the contact hypothesis, very little research has tested the effect of negative intergroup contact. In recent years, several authors (e.g., Barlow et al., 2012; Pettigrew, 2008; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2013) have expressed concern over this positivity bias within the contact literature. In particular, Barlow et al. (2012) presented evidence that negative contact may have a larger effect on prejudice than positive contact. Barlow et al. argue that this contact valence asymmetry could mean that in socially diverse environments (which provide opportunities for both positive and negative contact), negative contact could counteract (or even reverse) the beneficial effects of positive contact. However, a number of studies have shown that rather than combining additively, positive and negative contact may in fact interact (i.e., the effects of negative contact may change depending upon the level of positive contact, and vice versa, e.g., Birtel & Crisp, 2012; Christ, Ullrich, & Wagner, 2008; Paolini et al., 2014). Unfortunately, the extent of evidence for these valenced contact interactions (and indeed for valenced contact effects in general) is severely limited, making it difficult to build any degree of theoretical (or methodological) consensus. The aims of this thesis are therefore twofold: first, to expand the body of evidence for the effects of negative intergroup contact; and second, to test the possible interaction between positive and negative contact as predictors of outgroup attitudes. With these aims in mind, this thesis presents four survey studies and three experiments testing the main effects and interactions of positive and negative contact across six different contact settings. In so doing, it reports strong evidence for the existence of valenced contact interactions. Based on the profiles of these interaction effects, the thesis ends by discussing possible causal explanations, and their implications for the field of valenced contact research.
Supervisor: Hewstone, Miles Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available