How does Intergroup Contact Generate Ethnic Tolerance? The Contact Hypothesis in a Scandinavian Context


Jens Peter Frølund Thomsen, Aarhus University, Department of Political Science and Government, Aarhus, 8000, Denmark. E-mail:


As European majority members are often hostile toward ethnic minorities, it is important to identify sources that reduce opposition to immigrants. First, focusing on Denmark, this article examines whether intergroup contact influences attitudes toward ethnic minority rights (henceforth: ‘ethnic tolerance’). Second, this study tests whether the contact-tolerance relationship is mediated by self-disclosure and symbolic threat. Furthermore, contact is measured as workplace contact in order to reduce self-selection biases. The empirical tests are performed on a Danish high-quality national probability sample from 2009 (N = 1,929). Analysis shows that intergroup contact generates ethnic tolerance because workplace contact weakens threat perceptions and stimulates disclosure of personal information. Generally, these results suggest that regular intergroup contact can improve ethnic relations in contemporary democracies.