What Makes People Imagine Themselves in Contact with Outgroup Members: Exploring the Relationship between Vicarious Media Contact Experiences and Imagined Contact

Chanjung Kim, James T Harwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We explored whether mediated intergroup contact might stimulate other forms of intergroup contact. Our study compared two forms of mediated contact: vicarious intergroup contact (exposure to an intergroup relationship) and parasocial contact (exposure to just outgroup members) in terms of their potential to stimulate spontaneous imagined intergroup contact. We also examined whether that spontaneous imagined contact would increase desire for face-to-face contact. Results showed that vicarious contact elicited more imagined contact when the media stimulus was low in richness. A path model from vicarious contact to face-to-face contact via imagined contact was supported, however the direction of effects was the opposite of our hypothesis. The more participants engaged in imagined contact with outgroup members in which group memberships were salient, the less they wanted to meet outgroup members in person. We speculate that the surprising effects are a result of the potential for our experimental stimuli to encourage group salient, and therefore negative imagined contact. However, our work demonstrates the ability for mediated contact to trigger spontaneous imagined contact, and some positive links between (non-outgroup-specific) imagined contact and increased desire for intergroup contact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunication Studies
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • Indirect Contact
  • Information Richness
  • Intergroup Communication
  • Intergroup Relations
  • Mediated Contact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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