Contact Hypothesis - History

History

Most research on the contact hypothesis resulted from World War II. Due to a shortage of combat troops, General Dwight D. Eisenhower allowed Black soldiers assigned in Europe at that time the option to volunteer for combat duty. The Army was concerned with the troop morale involving White soldiers who would possibly share the battlefield or be integrated into platoons with the Black soldiers. The results of a survey at that time were very polarized. Sixty-two percent of segregated units involving White soldiers said they would dislike the idea of serving in semi-integrated units. White soldiers who were currently serving within semi-integrated units reported only 7% dissatisfaction. This supports the notion that intergroup contact, under the right conditions, can reduce prejudice. Other studies have claimed that contact hypothesis is a very simple and optimistic and that contact would most likely gravitate toward hostility rather than friendship if two competitive parties were involved. If groups with a negative outlook were brought together, it would lead to increases of negative attitudes rather than positive.

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