chapter  4
32 Pages

Generalized effects of intergroup contact: the secondary transfer effect

Introduction In chapter 5 of his seminal book, The Nature of Prejudice, Gordon Allport (1954) described a study performed in 1946 by E.L. Hartley in which college students were asked about their attitudes towards 35 nations and races. Hidden among the 35 nations were the Daniereans, Pireneans, and the Wallonians – three fictitious ethnic groups. What Hartley found was quite surprising: not only were attitudes to the 32 real groups highly correlated, but the correlations between the real and fictitious groups were also extremely high (around .80). Indeed, one of the more prejudiced participants remarked, “I don’t know anything about [the fictitious groups]; therefore I would exclude them from my country” (p. 66). This study resonates with the point Allport made a few sentences earlier in the same chapter: “If a person is anti-Jewish, he is likely to be anti-Catholic, anti-Negro, anti any out-group” (1954, p. 66). If our attitudes are so highly inter-correlated, and if Allport’s assertion is correct, then if we improved attitudes towards one outgroup, would this lead to improved attitudes to other outgroups? Research on the secondary transfer effect addresses precisely this research question.