Advances in intergroup contact: epilogue and future directions
The notion that intergroup contact can reduce prejudice is an appealing prospect, one that enjoys considerable support in meta-analytic reviews of both intergroup contact generally (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006) and cross-group friendships specifically (Davies, Tropp, Aron, Pettigrew, & Wright, 2011). As the contributions in the present volume attest, our understanding of the contact phenomenon has grown substantially in recent years. The field has moved beyond merely demonstrating that contact “works,” to exploring how (i.e., the processes by which) it works, in addition to mapping its boundary conditions. More recently, research has moved on from the basic principles involved in direct, face-to-face contact, to propose that more indirect forms of contact can also be effective. During this interval the field has taken advantage of statistical procedures that clarify underlying processes to address our most pressing questions. As noted by Hodson and Hewstone (this volume), this valuable information comes at a critical time in human history, as we experience unprecedented intergroup contact and migration while we deplete our finite resources at an escalating rate, irrevocably changing the planet and biosphere in ways that undoubtedly will put increased pressure on social relations and increase friction between groups. In this final chapter we review the central themes uncovered in this volume, and assess how far the research and theorizing has come, before discussing present unknowns and future directions for research.