Skip to main content

Imagined Contact Works in High-Prejudice Contexts: Investigating Imagined Contact’s Effects on Anti-Gay Prejudice in Cyprus and Jamaica

Abstract

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that imagined contact can reduce prejudice in a variety of ways, against numerous groups, and in varied social contexts. Imagined contact has thus been suggested as an option for prejudice reduction where direct contact strategies may not be easy or practical. However, no research to date has tested imagined contact in high-prejudice contexts where direct contact is not a feasible option. In two experiments (N = 42, N = 100), we investigated whether imagined contact could be successfully applied as an intervention to reduce prejudice against gay men in two societies where direct contact would be particularly difficult or rare—Cyprus and Jamaica. Despite the relatively high prejudice against gay men reported in both societies, we found that imagined contact successfully improved attitudes, behavioral intentions, and social acceptance. We discuss the implications for imagined contact’s use as a real-world intervention when direct contact strategies might not be plausible.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  • Adepitan, A. (2014). Unreported world: Jamaica’s underground gays. UK: Channel 4. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/unreported-world/videos/all/jamaicas-underground-gays. Accessed 14 Oct 2014.

  • Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Angermeyer, M. C., & Matschinger, H. (2005). Causal beliefs and attitudes to people with schizophrenia: trend analysis based on data from two population surveys in Germany. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 186, 331–334.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bakacak, A. G., & Oktem, P. (2013). Homosexuality in Turkey: strategies for managing heterosexism. Journal of Homosexuality. doi:10.1080/00918369.2014.870453.

  • Bigler, R. S., & Hughes, J. M. (2010). Reasons for skepticism about the efficacy of simulated contact interventions. American Psychologist, 65, 131–132.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bilefsky, D. (2009). Soul-searching in Turkey after a gay man in killed. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/26/world/europe/26turkey.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. Accessed 25 Nov 2014.

  • Birtel, M. D., & Crisp, R. J. (2012). “Treating” prejudice: an exposure-therapy approach to reducing negative reactions toward stigmatized groups. Psychological Science, 23(11), 1379–1386. doi:10.1177/0956797612443838.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bogardus, E. S. (1925). Measuring social distances. Journal of Applied Sociology, 9, 299–308.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boxill, I., Lewis, B., Russell, R., & Bailey, A. (2007). The political culture of democracy in Jamaica: 2006. Nashville, TN.: Vanderbuilt University.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown, R., & Hewstone, M. (2005). An integrative theory of intergroup contact. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 37, 255–343. doi:10.1016/S0065-2601(05)37005-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chin, T. (1997). “Bullers” and “Battymen”: contesting homophobia in black popular culture and contemporary Caribbean literature. Callaloo, 20(1), 127–141.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Clunis, A. (2004). OUTRAGED!-British gays use Brian Williamson’s death to push agenda. The Jamaica Gleaner, pp. 19–20. http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20040613/news/news1.html. Accessed 14 Oct 2014.

  • Cowell, N.M. (2011). Public discourse, popular culture and attitudes towards homosexuals in Jamaica. Social and Economic Studies, 31–60.

  • Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. (2009). Can imagined interactions produce positive perceptions? Reducing prejudice through simulated social contact. American Psychologist, 64(4), 231–240. doi:10.1037/a0014718.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. (2012). The imagined contact hypothesis. In M. P. Zanna & J. Olson (Eds.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 46, pp. 125–182). Burlington: Academic.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. (2013). Imagined intergroup contact: refinements, debates and clarifications. In G. Hodson & M. Hewstone (Eds.), Advances in intergroup contact. New York, NY: Psychology.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crisp, R. J., Stathi, S., Turner, R. N., & Husnu, S. (2009). Imagined intergroup contact: theory, paradigm and practice. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 3(1), 1–18. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2008.00155.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Crisp, R. J., Husnu, S., Meleady, R., Stathi, S., & Turner, R. N. (2010). From imagery to intention: A dual route model of imagined contact effects. European Review of Social Psychology, 21(1), 188–236. doi:10.1080/10463283.2010.543312.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cuenot, R. G., & Fugita, S. S. (1982). Perceived homosexuality: measuring heterosexual attitudinal and nonverbal reactions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 8(1), 100–106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dadds, M. R., Bovbjerg, D. H., Redd, W. H., & Cutmore, T. R. (1997). Imagery in human classical conditioning. Psychological Bulletin, 122(1), 89–103.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dick, S. (2008). Homophobic hate crime: the gay British crime survey 2008. http://www.stonewall.org.uk/documents/homophobic_hate_crime__final_report.pdf. Accessed 14 Oct 2014.

  • Duyan, V., & Duyan, G. (2005). Turkish social work students’ attitudes toward sexuality. Sex Roles, 52, 697–706.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elder, M. (2013). Russia passes law banning gay “propaganda.”. London: The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/11/russia-law-banning-gay-propaganda.

    Google Scholar 

  • Evans-Lacko, S., Malcolm, E., West, K., Rose, D., London, J., Rusch, N., Little, K., Henderson, C., & Thornicroft, G. (2013). Influence of Time to Change’s social marketing interventions on stigma in England 2009-2011. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 202(s55), s77–s88. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.113.126672.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Farquharson, J. T. (2005). Fiya-bon: the socio-pragmatics of homophobia in Jamaican (Dancehall) culture. In S. Muhleisen & B. Migge (Eds.), Politeness and face in Caribbean Creoles (pp. 101–118). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Blackwell.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • FBI. (2003). Crime in the United States. http://www.fbi.gov. Accessed 14 Oct 2014.

  • Fritz, M. S., & Mackinnon, D. P. (2007). Required sample size to detect the mediated effect. Psychological Science, 18(3), 233–239. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01882.x.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harwood, J., Paolini, S., Joyce, N., Rubin, M., & Arroyo, A. (2011). Secondary transfer effects from imagined contact: group similarity affects the generalization gradient. The British Journal of Social Psychology, 50, 180–189. doi:10.1348/014466610X524263.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hayes, A. F. (2009). Beyond Baron and Kenny: statistical mediation analysis in the new millennium. Communication Monographs, 76(4), 408–420. doi:10.1080/03637750903310360.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2–3), 61–83. doi:10.1017/S0140525X0999152X.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Herek, G. M. (2004). Beyond “homophobia”: thinking about sexual prejudice and stigma in the twenty-first century. Sexuality Research and Social Policy: Journal of NSRC, 1(2), 6–24. doi:10.1525/srsp.2004.1.2.6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Herek, G. M., & Glunt, E. (1993). Interpersonal contact and heterosexuals’ attitudes toward gay men: results from a national survey. Journal of Sex Research, 30(3), 239–244. doi:10.1080/00224499309551707.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Herek, G. M., & Gonzalez-Rivera, M. (2006). Attitudes toward homosexuality among US residents of Mexican Descent. Journal of Sex Research, 43(2), 122–135. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224490609552307.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hron, A., Dayle, P., McKnight, I., & Carr, R. (2003). Report on persecution of sexual minorities in Jamaica. Jamaica forum for lesbians, all-sexuals and gays (pp. 1–19). http://www.laccaso.org/pdfs/impunidad_jamaica_glbt.pdf. Accessed 14 Oct 2014.

  • Husnu, S., & Crisp, R. J. (2010a). Elaboration enhances the imagined contact effect. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(6), 943–950. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2010.05.014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Husnu, S., & Crisp, R. J. (2010b). Imagined intergroup contact: a new technique for encouraging greater inter-ethnic contact in Cyprus. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 16(1), 97–108. doi:10.1080/10781910903484776.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jensen, L., Gambles, D., & Olsen, J. (1988). Attitudes toward homosexuality: a cross cultural analysis of predictors. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 34(1), 47–57. doi:10.1177/002076408803400107.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • J-FLAG. (2013). Homophobia and violence in Jamaica. Kingston, Jamaica. www.jflag.org. Accessed 14 Oct 2014.

  • Kole, S. K. (2007). Globalizing queer? AIDS, homophobia and the politics of sexual identity in India. Globalization and Health, 3(8), 1–16. doi:10.1186/1744-8603-3-8.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kosslyn, S. M., Ganis, G., & Thompson, W. L. (2006). Mental imagery and the human brain. Psychology, 1, 195–209.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lee, Y. T., & Jussim, L. (2010). Back in the real world. American Psychologist, 65, 130–131.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lemm, K. M. (2006). Positive associations among interpersonal contact, motivation, and implicit and explicit attitudes toward gay men. Journal of Homosexuality, 5(2), 79–98. doi:10.1300/J082v51n02.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Martinez, S. V. (2013). Gov’t shouldn’t let Dwayne Jones’ death go in vain. Jamaica Gleaner. Kingston, Jamaica. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130813/cleisure/cleisure3.html. Accessed 13 Aug 2014.

  • Miles, E., & Crisp, R. J. (2014). A meta-analytic test of the imagined contact hypothesis. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations. doi:10.1177/1368430213510573.

  • Nosek, B. A., Greenwald, A., & Banaji, M. R. (2007). The Implicit Association Test at age 7: a methodological and conceptual review. In J. A. Bargh (Ed.), Automatic Processes in Social Thinking and Behaviour (pp. 265–292). New York: Psychology Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ottosson, D. (2009). State-sponsored homophobia: a world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults (pp. 1–57). http://archive.equal-jus.eu/413/1/state_homophobia.pdf. Accessed 14 Oct 2014.

  • Padgett, T. (2006). The most homophobic place on Earth? Time, 1. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1182991,00.html. Accessed 14 Oct 2014.

  • Paluck, E. L. (2009). Reducing intergroup prejudice and conflict using the media: a field experiment in Rwanda. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(3), 574–587. doi:10.1037/a0011989.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pearson, D. (2012). Christian ethics and the UTech beating. Jamaica Gleaner. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20121111/cleisure/cleisure5.html. Accessed 11 Nov 2014.

  • Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. (2006). A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(5), 751–783. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.90.5.751.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sears, D. O. (1986). College sophomores in the laboratory: influences of a narrow data base on social psychology’s view of human nature. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(3), 515–530. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.51.3.515.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stathi, S., & Crisp, R. J. (2008). Imagining intergroup contact promotes projection to outgroups. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(4), 943–957. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2008.02.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stathi, S., Crisp, R. J., & Hogg, M. A. (2011). Imagining intergroup contact enables member-to-group generalization. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 15(3), 275–284. doi:10.1037/a0023752.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stathi, S., Tsantila, K., & Crisp, R. J. (2012). Imagining intergroup contact can combat mental health stigma by reducing anxiety, avoidance and negative stereotyping. The Journal of Social Psychology, 15(6), 746–757.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stathi, S., Crisp, R. J., Turner, R. N., West, K., & Birtel, M. D. (2013). Using mental imagery to promote positive intergroup relations. In D. W. Russel & C. A. Russel (Eds.), The psychology of prejudice: interdisciplinary perspectives on contemporary issues (pp. 235–350). Hauppauge, NY: Nova.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tamale, S. (2009). A human rights impact assessment of the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill 2009. The Equal Rights Review, (October), 49–57.

  • Turner, R. N., & Crisp, R. J. (2010). Imagining intergroup contact reduces implicit prejudice. The British Journal of Social Psychology, 49, 129–142.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Turner, R. N., & West, K. (2012). Behavioural consequences of imagining intergroup contact with stigmatized outgroups. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 15(2), 193–202. doi:10.1177/1368430211418699.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Turner, R. N., Crisp, R. J., & Lambert, E. (2007). Imagining intergroup contact can improve intergroup attitudes. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 10(4), 427–441. doi:10.1177/1368430207081533.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Turner, R. N., West, K., & Christie, Z. (2013). Outgroup trust, intergroup anxiety, and outgroup attitude as mediators of the effect of imagined intergroup contact on intergroup behavioural tendencies. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43(S2), E196–E205.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vezzali, L., Capozza, D., Giovannini, D., & Stathi, S. (2012a). Improving implicit and explicit intergroup attitudes using imagined contact: An experimental intervention with elementary school children. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 15(2), 203–212. doi:10.1177/1368430211424920.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vezzali, L., Capozza, D., Stathi, S., & Giovannini, D. (2012b). Increasing outgroup trust, reducing infrahumanization, and enhancing future contact intentions via imagined intergroup contact. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(1), 437–440. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.09.008.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • West, K. (2012). Out of many, one people. Kingston, Jamaica: The Jamaica Observer. Retrieved from http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Out-of-many–one-people_12732617.

    Google Scholar 

  • West, K., & Bruckmüller, S. (2013). Nice and easy does it: how perceptual fluency moderates the effectiveness of imagined contact. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 254–262.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • West, K., & Cowell, N. M. (2014). Predictors of prejudice against gay men and lesbians in Jamaica. Journal of Sex Research. doi:10.1080/00224499.2013.853725.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • West, K., & Geering, P. (2013). Across Jamaica’s Gay Divide. Jamaica: BBC World Service. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01ksh8f.

    Google Scholar 

  • West, K., & Hewstone, M. (2012a). Culture and contact in the promotion and reduction of anti-gay prejudice: evidence from Jamaica and Britain. Journal of Homosexuality, 59(1), 44–66. doi:10.1080/00918369.2011.614907.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • West, K., & Hewstone, M. (2012b). Relatively socially acceptable prejudice within and between societies. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 22, 269–282. doi:10.1002/casp.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • West, K., Holmes, E. A., & Hewstone, M. (2011). Enhancing imagined contact to reduce prejudice against people with schizophrenia. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 14, 407–428.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wheatle, S. (2012). The rights to equality and non-discrimination and the Jamaican charter of fundamental rights and freedoms. West Indian Law Journal, 126–136.

  • White, R. C., & Carr, R. (2005). Homosexuality and HIV/AIDS stigma in Jamaica. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 7(4), 347–359. doi:10.1080/13691050500100799.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams, L. (2008). On homophobia and gay rights activism in Jamaica. In T. Glave (Ed.), Our Caribbean: a gathering of lesbian and gay writing from the Antelles (pp. 382–387). Durham: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wright, S. C., Aron, A., McLaughlin-Volpe, T., & Ropp, S. A. (1997). The extended contact effect: Knowledge of cross-group friendships and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(1), 73–90.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yarber, W. L., & Yee, B. (1983). Heterosexuals’ attitudes toward lesbianism and male homosexuality: their affective orientation toward sexuality and sex guilt. Journal of American College Health, 31(5), 203–208.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhao, X., Lynch, J. G., Jr., & Chen, Q. (2010). Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: myths and truths about mediation analysis. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(2), 197–206. doi:10.1086/651257.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors would also like to thank Professor Miles Hewstone at the University of Oxford for his helpful comments concerning an earlier draft of this manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Keon West.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

West, K., Husnu, S. & Lipps, G. Imagined Contact Works in High-Prejudice Contexts: Investigating Imagined Contact’s Effects on Anti-Gay Prejudice in Cyprus and Jamaica. Sex Res Soc Policy 12, 60–69 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-014-0172-7

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-014-0172-7

Keywords

  • Sexual prejudice
  • Intergroup contact
  • Imagined contact
  • Cyprus
  • Jamaica