More than a prejudice reduction effect: Positive intergroup contact reduces conspiracy theory beliefs

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Abstract

Emerging research suggests intergroup contact has broader implications than prejudice reduction. In three studies, we explored whether positive intergroup contact may serve as a means to reduce conspiracy beliefs. Study 1 (n = 287, pre-registered) demonstrated that (high quality) contact with immigrants predicted lower belief in immigrant conspiracy theories, a finding that remained when controlling for prejudice. This was replicated in a second study (N = 501), where positive contact with Jewish people predicted lower Jewish conspiracy beliefs. A third study (N = 214) provided experimental evidence of this effect by manipulating exposure to positive contact through mental imagery. In exploratory analyses, we also found that positive contact was associated with lower general conspiracy theorizing via reduced immigrant (Study 1) and Jewish (Study 2) conspiracy beliefs. Our work develops a framework where positive contact could be used as an important tool to reduce harmful conspiracy beliefs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1262-1275
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Volume53
Issue number6
Early online date16 Jul 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Keywords

  • Conspiracy theories
  • Intergroup contact
  • Prejudice
  • Intervention

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