Inter-Group Contact and Tolerant Behavior: An Experimental Study of Social Status

  • 10 May 2022

    17:00-18:00, Large Lecture Room, Nuffield College

  • CESS Workshop   Add to Calendar
Speaker: Alberto Simpser

ITAM Mexico and TSE/IAST

This event is part of the Centre for Experimental Social Sciences Workshop series.

The DPIR Experimental Methods Course will have a weekly guest speaker presenting an experimental research design and findings.

This workshop is open to those who might be interested. For more information and to request a link to join online, visit the CESS events listing.


Political polarization has become a defining feature of twenty-first century politics in many countries, but we know little about how to reduce it. We show that online contact under equal social status between people with opposing political sympathies enhances tolerant behaviors, including willingness to interact and to share material resources with out-group members several weeks later. Contact under unequal status had no such effects, and revealing participants’ real-world socioeconomic status did not diminish the influence of experimentally-assigned status.

Our findings suggest that status equality enhanced mutual perceptions of common humanity. By credibly manipulating social status online, we demonstrate how inter-group contact can reduce an increasingly prominent form of prejudice, ironically through a medium generally thought to enhance it. (Please note this work is co-authored)