Secondary transfer effects from imagined contact: Group similarity affects the generalization gradient

Publication Year
2011

Type

Journal Article
Abstract

An experiment examined the effects of imagining contact with an illegal immigrant on attitudes towards illegal immigrants and subsequent effects of that attitude change on feelings about other groups (secondary transfer). Compared to a condition in which participants imagined negative contact with an illegal immigrant, participants who imagined positive contact reported more positive attitudes concerning illegal immigrants. Using bootstrapped mediation models, effects of positive imagined contact on attitudes towards illegal immigrants were shown to generalize to other groups that were independently ranked as similar to illegal immigrants, but not to dissimilar groups. This generalization gradient effect was relatively large. Implications for theory and practical applications to prejudice reduction are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Journal
British Journal of Social Psychology
Volume
50
Pages
180–189
Type of Article
Journal Article
Full text

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Method

A total of 158 undergraduate communication majors at a large Southwestern USA university participated in this study. [...] Respondents were randomly assigned to one of three ‘imagination’ tasks in a between subjects design. They were asked to imagine a positive interaction with an unfamiliar illegal immigrant (N = 42), a negative interaction with an unfamiliar illegal immigrant (N = 38), or they imagined being in an outdoor scene (control group: N = 48). A series of prompts encouraged elaboration on the imagined experience – in the imagined contact conditions we solicited open-ended responses [...]. As a manipulation check, respondents rated their imagined interaction (or outdoor experience) in terms of how enjoyable and pleasant it was (1 = not at all, 7 = very much). [...] Respondents then rated their feelings about 21 groups (including illegal immigrants) on ‘feeling thermometers’ ranging from 1 (very cold/favourable) to 9 (very warm/unfavourable). [...] Finally, participants in the negative condition engaged in a positive imagined contact task (again with an unfamiliar illegal immigrant) in order to counteract potential negative effects of the negative scenario, and they were debriefed. As an aid to interpreting the results, we obtained independent rankings of the similarity between illegal immigrants and the 20 other groups using three independent undergraduate research assistants. These research assistants were blind to the goals of our research and our hypotheses. They were asked to rank all 20 groups in terms of how similar to illegal immigrants they were, with no specific definition of similarity provided (1 = most similar, 20 = least similar). [...]

Type of Prejudice/Bias
Country
Method