Understanding the Complexity of Everyday Interethnic Contact: Recommendations for Researchers

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Abstract

Interethnic contact has long been a focus of social psychological research, and in this article, we provide some recommendations about how to study interethnic social contact. Our primary recommendation is that researchers should study interethnic contact more in vivo to complement single assessment surveys and laboratory research, sometimes of arbitrarily defined groups, with more naturalistic research and with research involving groups that exist in the real world. This recommendation is based in part on the limitations of surveys and laboratory methods and in part on the advantages provided by what are referred to as intensive repeated measures designs, methods that have proven to be useful in studying other topics. We discuss these limitations and the relative advantages of different types of intensive repeated measures methods for the study of interethnic contact and provide some recommendations for their use. Finally, regardless of how they study interethnic contact, researchers need to expand the focus of their questions, increase the sensitivity of the data they collect, and increase the ethnic diversity of the samples they study.

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