The Contact Hypothesis Re-evaluated

30 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017 Last revised: 23 Jul 2018

See all articles by Elizabeth Levy Paluck

Elizabeth Levy Paluck

Princeton University Department of Psychology

Seth Green

Code Ocean

Donald P. Green

Columbia University

Date Written: May 24, 2017


This paper evaluates the state of contact hypothesis research from a policy perspective. Building on Pettigrew and Tropp’s (2006) influential meta-analysis, we assemble all intergroup contact studies that feature random assignment and delayed outcome measures, of which there are 27 in total, nearly two-thirds of which were published following the original review. We find the evidence from this updated dataset to be consistent with Pettigrew and Tropp's (2006) conclusion that contact "typically reduces prejudice." At the same time, our meta-analysis suggests that contact's effects vary, with interventions directed at ethnic or racial prejudice generating substantially weaker effects. Moreover, our inventory of relevant studies reveals important gaps, most notably the absence of studies addressing adults' racial or ethnic prejudice, an important limitation for both theory and policy. We also call attention to the lack of research that systematically investigates the scope conditions suggested by Allport (1954) under which contact is most influential. We conclude that these gaps in contact research must be addressed empirically before this hypothesis can reliably guide policy.

Keywords: Computational Reproducibility, Contact Hypothesis, Economics, Intergroup Contact, Meta-Analysis, Psychology, Reproducibility, Political Science, Prejudice, Prejudice Reduction

Suggested Citation

Paluck, Elizabeth Levy and Green, Seth and Green, Donald P., The Contact Hypothesis Re-evaluated (May 24, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Elizabeth Levy Paluck

Princeton University Department of Psychology ( email )

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Department of Psychology
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Seth Green (Contact Author)

Code Ocean ( email )

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Donald P. Green

Columbia University ( email )

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