Intergroup Contact and Pluralistic Ignorance

Jennifer A. Richeson, Yale University
Publication Date:
Jan 2005
Project Programs:
Cultural Contact

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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