Sharp, M., & Hewstone, M.
Impact of context effects on attitudes and contact: Evidence of the validity of self-reports of intergroup contact
Most studies of intergroup contact rely on potentially context-dependent self-report measures of contact. Two studies investigated whether self-reports are resistant to the effects of context. Study 1 required participants to recall a positive or negative encounter with an outgroup member, either immediately prior to, or following, self-reports of attitudes and contact with the outgroup. Recalling an outgroup encounter immediately prior to reporting attitudes affected reported attitudes in accordance with the valence of the encounter, while reported contact was unaffected. Study 2 provided primed participants with a newspaper story involving a positive vs. negative intergroup encounter. When compared to a control condition in which group membership of the story’s characters was unknown, attitudes were affected in accordance with the valence of the prime, while self-reports of contact were not. Overall, these findings show, for the first time, that self-reports of contact are resistant to at least some types of context effects, and increase the confidence with which conclusions can be drawn from research relying on such self-report measures of intergroup contact.Back