Reducing Prejudice: A Spatialized Game-Theoretic Model for the Contact Hypothesis

In Jordan Pollack, Mark Bedau, Phil Husbands, Takashi Ikegami & Richard A. Watson (eds.), Artificial Life IX: Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Artificial Life. MIT Press. pp. 244-250 (2004)
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There are many social psychological theories regarding the nature of prejudice, but only one major theory of prejudice reduction: under the right circumstances, prejudice between groups will be reduced with increased contact. On the one hand, the contact hypothesis has a range of empirical support and has been a major force in social change. On the other hand, there are practical and ethical obstacles to any large-scale controlled test of the hypothesis in which relevant variables can be manipulated. Here we construct a spatialized model that tests the core hypothesis in a large array of game-theoretic agents. Robust results offer a new kind of support for the contact hypothesis: results in simulation do accord with a hypothesis of reduced prejudice with increased contact. The spatialized game-theoretic model also suggests a deeper explanation for at least some of the social psychological phenomena at issue.
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