Psychologist to discuss 'contact hypothesis' and implications for reducing prejudice

Rupert Brown, professor of social psychology at the University of Sussex, U.K., shares his research on the “contact hypothesis” at Bates College at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, in Room G65, Pettengill Hall, 4 Andrews Road (Alumni Walk).

Titled Some Promising Ways to Reduce Prejudice: Recent Advances in the Psychology of Intergroup Contact, this lecture is open to the public at no cost. This event is made possible by the Mellon Innovation Fund, the Harward Center for Community Relationships at Bates and the college’s psychology department.

The contact hypothesis is the argument that contact among members of different groups will reduce existing prejudice and improve social relations between them. Outstanding issues from decades of research into the concept include the circumstances under which intergroup contact is most influential; whether individual contacts result in the reduction of prejudice towards a group; and factors that drive contact effects.

At Bates, Brown will present findings from field research on contact between different kinds of groups (disabled, ethnic, political) and will explain how these results could affect policymaking.

Brown is director of research and professor of social psychology in the School of Psychology, University of Sussex, where he has taught since 2004. He previously taught at the University of Kent for 25 years, helping to establish the Department of Social Psychology there. He is the author of numerous articles and two books, most recently, Prejudice: Its Social Psychology (Wiley), whose second edition is slated for release in August 2010.

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