Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 20 Issue 1 (January/February 2010), Pages 1-81

Intergroup contact in Romania: When minority size is positively related to intergroup conflict (pages 15-29)

Abstract

Contexts in which minority size is positively related to intergroup conflict are challenging for the contact hypothesis. In such situations, if opportunities for contact increase prejudice, the contact hypothesis may seem less credible, but if they reduce prejudice, the contact hypothesis may seem less useful for improving intergroup relations. Based on path analyses run on a Romanian national probability sample (N = 733), the current research shows that the contact hypothesis can nevertheless be relevant. Because the Hungarian minority is concentrated in Transylvania, a region with a long history of conflict between Romanians and Hungarians, Transylvanians have more opportunities for out‐group contact than other Romanians. However, the analyses also detected significant differences within Transylvania: Urban Transylvanians have more opportunities for contact with Hungarians than rural Transylvanians and, consequently, are less negative towards them. The results, which closely match recent historical events, suggest that a proper application of the contact hypothesis at a societal level has to take into account that minority size is not necessarily equivalent to opportunities for contact and that inter‐regional comparisons in opportunities for contact can hide significant intra‐regional differences. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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