December 1, 2021

Ethnic Cooperation


Reducing Prejudice:

  • Contact Hypothesis
  • Does contact work?
  • What kinds of contact work?


An example:

Beyond media interventions, what about face-to-face contact with people of different ethnic groups?

Why do you think Daryl Davis’s efforts worked?

Do you think this kind of contact reduces prejudice more generally?

What kinds of intergroup contact do you think might reduce prejudice?

Contact Hypothesis

Articulated by Gordon Allport (1954):

prejudice/negative stereotypes of other groups may be reduced by personal contact with members of the group when that contact…

  • is among people of equal status
  • involves pursuit of common goals
  • is sanctioned by institutions (law, custom)
  • can reveal common interests

Contact Hypothesis

Is there real world evidence that contact reduces prejudice?

Combining hundreds of studies, Pettigrew and Tropp 2(006) find it does, but consider this study…

Researchers surveyed 3806 people in France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and West Germany in 1988. They found that self-reported contact with members of immigrant outgroups was strongly associated with more positive evaluations of those groups.

Does contact cause less prejudice?

Paluck, Green, and Green 2019

Focus on results of studies where contact is randomly assigned and prejudice measured at least 1 day later.

  • Only 27 contact studies that were experiments
  • Who is studied? (~ 1/4 study adults over age 25)
  • What kind of prejudice (~3/5 study ethnicity)
  • What kind of contact? (mostly short, scripted, lacking common goal or cooperation)
  • What outcome? (explicit/implicit prejudice, behaviors)

Paluck, Green, and Green 2019


  • 24 out of 27 find reductions in prejudice (\(p < 0.001\))
  • Effect is very weak in larger, better designed experiments
  • Effect is smaller in ethnic prejudice studies >- Few studies attempt to explore sustained, collaborative contact in realistic settings

Contact: Evidence

New research explores sustained contact in realistic settings:

  • Caste prejudice and cricket in India (Lowe 2020)
  • Racial prejudice and Teach for America (Mo and Conn 2018)

Example 1: Cricket

Lowe (2020)

Caste in Rural India

  • Varna, Jati vs OBC, SC
  • Persistent discrimination against OBC, SC/ST
  • networks segregated by caste
  • intercaste interactions adversarial

Can contact reduce prejudice, foster cooperation?

Lowe (2020)

An Experiment:

Assign young men, aged 14 to 30 to play in local cricket leagues

  • 1200 men participate. 400 control. 280 in same-caste teams. 520 in mixed-caste teams.
  • Teams of 5 play 8 40-minute matches over a month

Lowe (2020)

Two forms of contact:

collaborative: mixed caste teams have contact in collaboration for common goal, “equal” status, sanctioned (official league)

adversarial: if opponents are other caste, then contact is toward opposing goals

Collaborative contact increases cross-caste friendship

Adversarial contact reduces cross-caste friendship

Collaborative contact increases positive cross-caste interactions

Adversarial contact reduces positive cross-caste interactions

Lowe (2020)

Key findings:

  • collaborative contact reduces prejudice, increases inter-caste friendship and cooperation
  • adversarial contact increases prejudice, reduces intercaste friendship/cooperation
  • any contact due to league reduces prejudice, but less for adversarial contact.

Example: TFA

Mo and Conn (2018)

Teach For America

  • community service organization
  • place top university graduates as teachers in low-income schools
  • 80% of students in these schools are African American or Latinx
  • 50k teachers through 2015

Does participation in TFA reduce racial prejudice, increase empathy with racial outgroup?

Mo and Conn (2018)

A big problem:

Who joins TFA? How are they different from people who don’t join?

Mo and Conn (2018)

Natural Experiment:

  • TFA applicants scored on assessment of teaching ability
  • Scoring above/below cutoff has huge effect on admission to the program.
  • Using TFA records, compare applicants just above and below this cutoff
  • Survey applicants from 2007-2013 (admitted and not) in 2015-16.
  • Assess beliefs about class inequality, racial injustice, racial prejudice

Mo and Conn (2018)

Score cut off affects participation in TFA: