Free guide to cultivating contact between different groups authored by UMass Amherst psychologists

illustration of people drawing lines between each other

Social psychologist Linda Tropp and doctoral student Trisha Dehrone in Tropp’s Intergroup Relations and Social Justice Lab collaborated with the nonprofits American Immigration Council and Welcoming America to author a new publication – “Cultivating Contact: A Guide to Building Bridges and Meaningful Connections Between Groups.”

The free guide distills the lessons from decades of academic research and insights from community partners concerning how people from different groups experience contact with each other and how their social attitudes and behaviors can be transformed through these experiences. The 24-page booklet describes how to foster greater trust and belonging between people from different backgrounds through community-based programs and initiatives.  

“We developed this guide so that it could be shared widely and freely – at no cost to any organizations that might benefit from the insights offered,” says Tropp, professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and faculty associate in the School of Public Policy

“The research we do was never meant to stay in a lab, and we’ve been fortunate to work with several community organizations throughout the country who are putting the science to work,” adds Dehrone, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow (NSF GRFP) and recipient of the NSF GRFP’s supplemental internship funding.

While building out this guide, she interned with the American Immigration Council in Washington, D.C., for six months. “This internship allowed me to consult with organizations on how to forge connections between groups, learn about the challenges they were facing in their communities and brainstorm potential solutions,” says Dehrone, who received her M.S. in social psychology from UMass Amherst earlier this year and is now pursuing her Ph.D. in the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program.

Their work on the guide was supported by a grant Tropp received from the Walmart Foundation.

The guide features:

  • Tips and best practices for implementing and facilitating contact-based programs. 
  • Strategies and activities that encourage people from different groups to work together as equals. 

Materials that can help communities and organizations assess the effectiveness of these contact programs. In announcing the guide, the American Immigration Council says, “We hope this guide helps set the stage for building meaningful and sustained contact in communities across the United States.”