A large-scale test of the link between intergroup contact and support for social change

Nat Hum Behav. 2020 Apr;4(4):380-386. doi: 10.1038/s41562-019-0815-z. Epub 2020 Jan 27.


Guided by the early findings of social scientists, practitioners have long advocated for greater contact between groups to reduce prejudice and increase social cohesion. Recent work, however, suggests that intergroup contact can undermine support for social change towards greater equality, especially among disadvantaged group members. Using a large and heterogeneous dataset (12,997 individuals from 69 countries), we demonstrate that intergroup contact and support for social change towards greater equality are positively associated among members of advantaged groups (ethnic majorities and cis-heterosexuals) but negatively associated among disadvantaged groups (ethnic minorities and sexual and gender minorities). Specification-curve analysis revealed important variation in the size-and at times, direction-of correlations, depending on how contact and support for social change were measured. This allowed us to identify one type of support for change-willingness to work in solidarity- that is positively associated with intergroup contact among both advantaged and disadvantaged group members.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ethnicity / psychology
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Minority Groups / psychology
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology
  • Social Change*
  • Vulnerable Populations / psychology