Extended Contact Through Story Reading in School Cameron_2006

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The aim of this study was to develop and assess a prejudice-reduction intervention for young children based on a relatively recent psychological concept, extended contact. A number of extended contact interventions were tested based on different models of generalized intergroup contact. A 3 (type of extended contact: neutral, decategorization, and “intergroup”)×2 (time of interview: pre- vs. post-extended contacts) mixed design was used, with the latter variable being within participants. Non-disabled children (N =67) aged 5–10 years took part in a 6-week intervention involving reading stories featuring disabled and non-disabled children in friendship contexts. The main dependent variables were children’s attitudes and intended behavior toward non-disabled and disabled people. Results showed that extended contact led to increased positivity toward the disabled, and this was most pronounced in the intergroup-extended contact condition. These findings suggest that extended contact can provide a prejudice-reduction intervention tool that can be used with young children in contexts in which the opportunity for direct contact is low. The findings also add to the psychological literature, providing support of the Hewstone and Brown (1986) “intergroup” model in the context of extended contact.
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   Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 62, No. 3, 2006, pp. 469--488 Extended Contact through Story Reading in School:Reducing Children’s Prejudice toward the Disabled Lindsey Cameron ∗ and Adam Rutland University of Kent  The aim of this study was to develop and assess a prejudice-reduction intervention for young children based on a relatively recent psychological concept, extended contact.Anumberofextendedcontactinterventionsweretestedbasedondifferent models of generalized intergroup contact. A 3 (type of extended contact: neutral,decategorization,and“intergroup”) × 2(timeofinterview:pre-vs.post-extended contacts)mixeddesignwasused,withthelattervariablebeingwithinparticipants. Non-disabledchildren(N  = 67)aged5–10yearstookpartina6-weekinterventioninvolving reading stories featuring disabled and non-disabled children in friend-shipcontexts.Themaindependentvariableswerechildren’sattitudesandintended behavior toward non-disabled and disabled people. Results showed that extended contact led to increased positivity toward the disabled, and this was most pro-nounced in the intergroup-extended contact condition. These findings suggest that extended contact can provide a prejudice-reduction intervention tool that can beused with young children in contexts in which the opportunity for direct contact is low. The findings also add to the psychological literature, providing support of the Hewstone and Brown (1986) “intergroup” model in the context of extended contact. Intergroup bias is by no means unusual among children in early and middlechildhood (e.g., Aboud, 1988; Brown, 1995; Nesdale, 2001). Within the develop-mental social psychology literature, the emphasis of research has been on devel-oping theoretical accounts of childhood prejudice (e.g., Aboud, 1988; Aboud &Amato,2001;Brown,1995;Hirschfeld,1996;Katz,1976;Rutland,2004;Rutland,Cameron, Milne, & McGeorge, 2005; Schofield, 1982). In contrast, within thefields of education and educational psychology, the major thrust of research hasbeenoninterventionstoreducechildhoodprejudice.Unfortunately,theconnection ∗ Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lindsey Cameron, Departmentof Psychology, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NP, UK [e-mail: l.cameron@kent.ac.uk]. 469 C  2006 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues  470 Cameron and Rutland betweentheoriesofprejudiceandeducationalinterventionshasbeenweak(Aboud& Levy, 2000; Bigler, 1999; Oskamp, 2000). Indeed, some researchers have ar-gued that the failure to design effective intervention programs is due in large partto the fact that theoretical frameworks are often sidelined in the development of intervention strategies (Stephan, 1999).The aim of the present article is to evaluate the effectiveness of a prejudice-reduction intervention, which is based on a recent theoretical development in theadult social psychology literature, namely the “indirect cross friendship hypoth-esis” or “extended contact effect” (Wright, Aron, McLaughlin-Volpe, & Ropp,1997). This suggests that reduced bias might result from “vicarious” experiencesof friendship, that is, knowledge of ingroup members being friends with outgroupmembers. Research suggests that “direct contact” between adult group memberscan reduce intergroup bias (Allport, 1954; Pettigrew, 1997; Pettigrew & Tropp,2000). However, there are a number of advantages in using “extended contact”rather than “direct contact” when attempting to reduce intergroup bias (Wrightetal.,1997).Apossiblesideeffectof  direct   contactisanxiety(Pettigrew&Tropp,2000; Stephan & Stephan, 1985).  Extended   contact allows participants to expe-rience contact while avoiding this negative feeling. Extended contact can also beused in contexts in which there is little opportunity for direct contact. This typeof intervention could allow widespread reduction in prejudice to occur withoutthe need for everyone to have an outgroup friend. The use of extended contact isalso advantageous because it can be applied effectively prior to direct outgroupcontact. Research suggests that outgroup attitudes formed prior to direct contactwith the outgroup are more malleable (Fazio & Zanna, 1981). Therefore, provid-ing an extended contact intervention prior to direct contact could make change inintergroup attitudes more likely.There is evidence to support the effectiveness of extended contact in adultsand older children aged 13 years and above (e.g., Liebkind & McAlister, 1999;Paolini, Hewstone, Cairns, & Voci, 2004; Wright et al., 1997). However, littleresearch has been conducted examining the usefulness of extended contact whenused with younger children and in conjunction with attitudes toward the disabled.Extended contact may depend on the ability to “include other in the self” (Wrightet al., 1997) which is the capacity to include a member of one’s own social groupin one’s own self-definition. Developmental research suggests that young childrenmay have the ability to engage in inclusion of other in the self. There is evidencethat social categories (e.g., ethnicity, gender, and nationality) are meaningful foryoung children (e.g., Aboud, 1988; Abrams, Rutland, & Cameron, 2003). Indeed,from the beginning of middle childhood, the acquisition of a social identity isa primary goal of social development and children readily incorporate categorymemberships (i.e., an “other”) into their collective selves (Ruble et al., 2004).Given these research findings, in the present study it was predicted that extended  Changing Children’s Intergroup Attitudes 471 contact would effectively change young children’s intergroup attitudes toward thedisabled.The second aim of the present research was to further theoretical knowledgeregarding one issue surrounding intergroup contact, namely generalization. Thequestion of generalization concerns whether the change in outgroup attitude fol-lowing contact with an outgroup member can be generalized and extended fromthe outgroup member one interacts with in the contact situation, to the whole out-group. In response to this question, a number of different approaches to intergroupcontact and generalization have been developed, which may have implicationsfor the characteristics of successful extended contact. The two models of interestin the present study were the decategorization model (Brewer & Miller, 1984)and Hewstone and Brown’s (1986) “intergroup” contact model. Hewstone andBrown (1986) contend that the positive effects of contact will be generalized tothe outgroup, during contact, only if ingroup and outgroup boundaries remainsalient (Brown & Hewstone, 2005; Gonzalez & Brown, 2003; van Oudenhoven,Groenewoud,&Hewstone,1996).Inaddition,thetypicalityoftheoutgroupmem-ber should be emphasized (Brown, Vivian, & Hewstone, 1999), so limiting thepossibility of subtyping in contact situations. Furthermore, Wright et al. (1997)suggestthatperceivedtypicalityisimportantinordertoobtaintheextendedcontacteffect.In contrast, according to the “decategorization” approach, in order to gen-eralize the effects of contact from that specific outgroup member to the wholeoutgroup, contact should be constructed so that outgroup members are individ-uated and not perceived as being members of a group (Brewer & Miller, 1984).Brewer and Miller (1984) argue that following  interpersonal  contact, the pos-itive effects of contact will be generalized to the whole outgroup because thegroup boundaries will become redundant and people will be treated as individualsrather than group members (Bettencourt, Brewer, Rogers-Croak, & Miller, 1992;Bettencourt, Charlton, & Kernahan, 1997). According to this approach, therefore,thedecreaseinprejudicefollowingdecategorizedcontactshouldalsobeassociatedwith a decrease in outgroup homogeneity (and increase in outgroup variability).Research on the decategorization model of contact has produced mixed results(Bettencourt et al., 1992; Gonzalez & Brown, 2003; Maras & Brown, 2000). Insupport of the decategorization model, there is evidence that greater perceivedvariability within the outgroup is associated with lower outgroup prejudice inchildren (Aboud & Fenwick, 1999). In addition, research suggests that althoughcontact with the outgroup in general is linked to lower prejudice, close personalfriendshipswithparticularoutgroupmembersareespeciallyrelatedtolowerlevelsof prejudice toward that group (Aboud, et al., 2003; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2000).This link between cross-group friendships and prejudice arguably provides somesupport for the decategorization approach.  472 Cameron and Rutland In the present research, two extended contact interventions were specificallydesigned to address the issue of generalization. These extended contact interven-tions were constructed so as to meet the requirements laid out in the above twotheoreticalapproachestogeneralizationofcontact.Therehasbeenlittleresearchingeneralization and contact in young children (cf. Maras & Brown, 1996) but givenprevious findings in the adult-related literature (e.g., Gonzalez & Brown, 2003),it was predicted that intergroup-extended contact would be the most successfulextended contact intervention. Thus, in addition to informing practitioners on thecharacteristics of extended contact that produces maximum effects on outgroupattitudes,theresultsofthepresentresearchcouldalsoinformpsychologicaltheoryconcerning intergroup contact and generalization.  Evaluating Interventions A limitation of previous evaluations of prejudice-reduction intervention pro-grams is the wide variety of the duration and frequency of interventions. Inter-ventions can range from one-off sessions lasting 15 minutes (Katz & Zalk, 1978)or several hours (Byrnes & Kiger, 1990) to several sessions lasting 15 to 20 min-utes that take place over a number of days (Bigler & Liben, 1992), weeks (Maras& Brown, 1996; 2000), or months (Aboud & Fenwick, 1999). Little researchhas systematically examined the effects of duration and frequency of sessions onthe success of interventions. However, a number of authors have suggested thatlong-term interventions are required to produce any real, long-lasting change inoutgroup attitudes and behaviors (e.g., Duckitt, 1992; Hill & Augustinos, 2001).Indeed, there is evidence that large-scale interventions, such as desegregation of schools, can lead to long-term improvements in intergroup relationships (Stephan& Stephan, 1996). In response to this, the present study will involve a system-atic examination of the effectiveness of a 6-week extended contact intervention atchanging 5- to 10-year-old non-disabled children’s views of an outgroup, specifi-cally the disabled.  Disability and Prejudice Reduction Thepresentresearchfocusedonencouragingpositiveattitudesinnon-disabledchildren toward people with disabilities. Children’s attitudes toward the disabledhave recently become more significant within the United Kingdom, with moredirect contact between non-disabled and disabled children through the Britishgovernment’s policy of “inclusion” in education (see Grubbs & Niemeyer, 1999;Norwich, 2002). “Inclusion” is the enrollment of disabled children in mainstreamschools, as opposed to separate “special schools.” The philosophy of “inclusion”is that by providing equal educational opportunities for disabled children, andchallenging children’s stereotypical views of disabled people, this will, in later
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