Chapter 3 — CLaims & Ratings

Overall: Centered around contact theory and its related claims, this chapter’s foundation is one of the most well-studied areas in the social sciences. The majority of claims in this chapter have been tested in diverse contexts, across hundreds of studies with thousands of participants.

Claim 3.1: People naturally empathize more with members of their in-groups, as compared to outsiders.
Rating: 5
Research suggests that preferential empathy for our in-group is a distinct psychological process from the lack of empathy or hostility displayed towards out-groups. The theory behind increased empathy for members of our in-group is substantiated in a range of populations and contexts, and in-group identification has clear implications for empathy across situations. 

Claim 3.2: We fail to empathize—and often experience antipathy—in competitive contexts.
Rating: 5
This is well documented in psychological, political, and neuroscientific literature. 

Claim 3.3: Contact generally increases empathy for outsiders.
Rating: 5
This effect has been demonstrated in hundreds of studies and meta-analyses over the past several decades. 

Claim 3.4: Contact can bolster empathy for outsiders amid conflict or competition.
Rating: 5
Based mostly on a large-scale meta analysis, this effect has been robustly demonstrated outside of the lab, with a small but meaningful effect size, even in serious, deep-seated conflicts. 

Claim 3.5: Specific conditions (for example, those laid out by Gordon Allport) are necessary in order for contact to foster empathy toward outsiders.
Rating: 3
There are many studies documenting differences in the effects of contact across situations, but little agreement about which parameters are required for contact to “work,” as reflected in a recent meta-analysis.