From imagery to intention: A dual route model of imagined contact effects

Richard Crisp, Senel Husnu, Rose Meleady, Sofia Stathi, Rhiannon Turner

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93 Citations (Scopus)


Imagined intergroup contact (Crisp & R. Turner, 2009) is a new indirect contact strategy for promoting tolerance and more positive intergroup relations. In this chapter, we review existing research on imagined contact and propose two routes-cognitive and affective-through which it can exert a positive influence on contact-related attitudes and intentions. We first review research that has established the beneficial impacts of imagined contact on intergroup attitudes via reduced intergroup anxiety, supporting its efficacy as an intervention where there exists little or no opportunity for direct contact. We then review more recent research showing that imagined contact not only improves attitudes, but can also enhance intentions to engage in future contact. These studies suggest that contact imagery provides a behavioural script that forms the cognitive basis for subsequent judgements about future contact intentions. Collectively, the findings from this research programme support the idea that imagined contact can complement more direct forms of contact-providing a way of initially encouraging an interest in engaging positively with outgroups before introducing face-to-face encounters. We discuss the implications of these findings for future theory and research, and how they can inform prejudice-reduction interventions seeking to capitalise on the beneficial effects of mental imagery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-236
Number of pages49
JournalEuropean Review of Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

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