Changing stereotype content through mental imagery: Imagining intergroup contact promotes stereotype change

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Journal Article

Research has recently shown that imagining intergroup contact can reduce hostility toward outgroups. The present experiment explored whether imagining intergroup contact leads to more positive perceptions of outgroups differentially stereotyped on the two fundamental dimensions of social perception, namely warmth and competence. Depending on the experimental condition, participants (N = 123) imagined either an intergroup encounter with an outgroup member rated as high (vs. low) on warmth and competence or an outdoor scene. Results showed that imagining an intergroup encounter enhances warmth and competence perception of dehumanized groups, and promotes the perception of warmth and competence of envied and paternalized groups, respectively. These findings suggest that imagined contact could promote positive intergroup relationships toward a wide range of social groups, even dehumanized groups.

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations
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Journal Article
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Participants and design. A total of 123 students at a large university in Italy, 24 male and 99 female, aged between 19 and 55 (M = 21.66; SD = 4.86) participated in this study. [...] The study employed a 2 (task: contact vs. control) x 4 (target group: Albanians vs. Canadians vs. Chinese vs. Peruvians) x 2 (traits: warmth vs. competence) mixed-model design, with repeated measures on the last factor.

Procedure. [...] Participants were then randomly allocated to either contact or control conditions. [...] Thus, in the current experiment we employed the standard no-contact control scene used in previous research. Specifically, participants were asked: [Verbal Stimulus A]. By contrast, in the contact condition participants imagined a positive encounter with one group representing one of the SCM quadrants: Canadians, Chinese, Peruvians, or Albanians. Specifically, participants were asked: [Verbal Stimulus B]. In all conditions, participants were given 1 min to imagine the scene. [...] Next, ostensibly as part of an unrelated research project, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire concerning the relations between Italians and immigrants living in Italy. Specifically, participants were asked to rate a given group on warmth [...] and competence [...] using 7-point scales (1 = not at all, 7 = very much). In the contact condition participants rated the group that was involved in the imagination task. In the control condition, participants rated one of the four selected groups, selected at random. [...]

Type of Prejudice/Bias