According to the extended contact contact hypothesis (Wright, Aron, McLaughlin-Volpe, & Ropp, 1997), the simple knowledge that an ingroup member has an outgroup friend is sometimes sufficient to reduce prejudice. Recently, strategies based on extended contact have been successfully applied in school settings (Cameron & Rutland, 2006). The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of extended contact between school students in the Italian context, by examining a new age group and untested mediators of ameliorated intergroup relations. Furthermore, we examined the hypothesis that extended contact would facilitate the desire to engage in future real intergroup interactions. Participants were Italian secondary school students aged 11-13 years; the target outgroup was that of immigrants. There were three conditions. In the first (intercultural reading), participants read, during the summer period, a book with stories involving contact between people with different cultural backgrounds. The other two were control conditions: participants read a book unrelated to intercultural themes (non-intercultural reading) or did not read any book (no-reading). After the summer holiday, participants completed a questionnaire. As expected, in the intercultural reading condition, intergroup attitudes, stereotypes and intended behavior were more positive than in the two control conditions; furthermore, the desire for future intergroup interactions was stronger. Notably, the positive effects of intercultural reading were mediated by IOS (Aron, Aron, & Smollan, 1992), ingroup identification and increased pleasantness of interacting with outgroup vs. ingroup members. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.
Improving Italian students’ attitudes toward immigrants: Book reading as a new dimension of extended contact / Vezzali, Loris; S., Stathi; Giovannini, Dino. - STAMPA. - 1:(2010), pp. 195-195. (Intervento presentato al convegno XI Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Meeting tenutosi a Las Vegas, Nevada nel Gennaio, 2010).