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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2005 Jan;88(1):91-107.

Intergroup contact and pluralistic ignorance.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.


The present work examined the relationship between people's own interpretations of why they avoid intergroup contact and their interpretations of why out-groups avoid intergroup contact. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that Whites and Blacks would like to have more contact with the out-group but believe the out-group does not want to have contact with them. Studies 3-5 show that Whites and Blacks make divergent explanations about their own and their potential out-group partner's failure to initiate contact. Specifically, individuals explained their own inaction in terms of their fear of being rejected because of their race but attributed the out-group members' inaction to their lack of interest. Study 6 examined the behavioral consequences of this self-other bias. Finally, Study 7 applied theoretical work on the extended contact hypothesis to explore a means to reduce this self- other bias. The implications of these studies for improving intergroup interactions are discussed.

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