social distance and fewer negative emotions related to the out-
group. The quality of contacts mattered too, especially
regarding equal status, cooperation, and closeness. It wasn’t
enough simply to encounter members of the out-group (to just
be introduced, for example).
prejudice also reduced contact.
Those in the out-
group were more reluctant to engage with or contact the in-
group. Contact had no effect on reducing prejudice of the
minority out-group toward the majority in-group.
interpretation of these results is that contact matters, high-
quality contact matters more, but both matter the most from
the in-group’s perspective.
Nevertheless, intergroup friendships are still desirable, as
many studies document.
But they are readily overpowered
by negative intergroup interactions. Thus the top priority for
managers faced with intergroup conflict is to identify and root
out specific negative linkages between or among groups. More
specifically, focusing on the perceived security and quality of
the interactions matters. If you and/or your managers can
make the out-group feel there is nothing at stake (they are not
being evaluated), they are more likely to feel secure and
satisfied with the interaction. This reassurance can also reduce
both groups’ prejudices about the other. We can achieve such
benefits by sharing social interests or social events where the
focus is not on work, particularly the out-group’s work.
Considering this evidence, managers are wise to note negative
interactions between members and groups and consider
options for reducing conflict.
Several actions are
Eliminate specific negative interactions (obvious
Conduct team building to reduce
and prepare for cross-functional teamwork.
Encourage and facilitate friendships via social events
(happy hours, sports leagues, and book clubs).
Foster positive attitudes (empathy and compassion).