Does Having a Political Discussion Help or Hurt Intergroup Perceptions? Drawing Guidance From Social Identity Theory and the Contact Hypothesis

Robert M. Bond, Hillary C. Shulman, Michael Gilbert


This experiment (N = 238) tested propositions from social identity theory alongside the intergroup contact hypothesis to examine whether having a political discussion with an in-group (politically similar) or out-group (politically different) member affects subsequent evaluations of these social groups. Although several experimental results provide strong support for the antisocial predictions proposed by social identity theory, ultimately it was found that having a political discussion with an out-group member led to more positive moral and affective evaluations of out-group members than having a discussion with an in-group member. This result is consistent with the contact hypothesis and supports the notion that political discussions across party lines can produce positive social outcomes.


contact hypothesis, intergroup relations, political discussions, political polarization, social identity theory

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