Hood, Ralph W., Jr.,
Silver, Christopher F.; Rausch, David W.; Black, Kristen J.
College of Arts and Sciences
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
Increasing political polarization in the United States over the last 60 years has led to an increase in self-segregation by political affiliation. This can be seen at the level of the nation, state, city, and even the neighborhood. In contrast, many data trends suggest that polarization between other groups (e.g., racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation) has decreased during the same time. One of the most studied methods for decreasing intergroup prejudice has been Gordon Allport’s intergroup contact hypothesis. Allport suggested that contact between groups who see themselves as equals with common interests, common goals, and the support of cultural institutions are more likely to reduce prejudice between said groups. But while this hypothesis has been extensively studied in a wide variety of contexts, precious few studies have done so in the context of political affiliation. This mixed methods study attempts to apply the lessons of other applications of Allport’s hypothesis to members of opposing political groups using direct one-on-one discussion between individuals in these groups and follow-up interviews. Qualitative and quantitative results suggest that participants were positive in their evaluation of each other and their discussion, and that it is likely that intergroup contact decreases political prejudice both immediately and 30 days after the discussion.
I would like to first thank my incredible wife, Heather Durham, for her endless willingness to listen and critique my ideas – even when I no doubt sounded like a broken record. I would also like to thank my son, Christopher, for his help in making this thesis more accessible to a general audience. I also could not have completed this project without the guidance and support of Dr. Ralph W. Hood and Dr. Christopher F. Silver. They helped me take a jumble of ideas and turn them into a feasible project, as well as provided me with frequent guidance throughout. I would also like to acknowledge the support of Dr. Kristen Black for both being on my thesis committee as well as giving me a solid foundation in frequentist statistics, as well as Dr. Edward Christopher for introducing me to Bayesian modelling and all of its attendant advantages. I would further like to acknowledge the expertise and support that Dr. David Rausch brought to my committee. Last, but not least, I would like to acknowledge the UTC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department for their support of the study by way of covering gift card costs for my participants.
M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.
Intergroup relations; Prejudices; Social interaction
x, 90 leaves
Durham, Matthew, "Discerning the other: political prejudice and intergroup contact" (2020). Masters Theses and Doctoral Dissertations.