Using a year 2000 national racial poll conducted by the New York Times, I analyze Whites' approval of interracial marriage. I utilize the contact hypothesis, as originally formulated by Gordon Allport, to develop a conceptual model of White's attitudes toward interracial marriage. Specifically I propose and develop an additional dimension of the contact hypothesis, which accounts for the context in which interracial contacts occur. I do so by examining several specific social settings in which White respondents report experiencing contact with Blacks. The contexts examined are ordered in terms of the type of contact they likely provide, from close, personal contact to superficial and hierarchical contact. The results indicate that the type of contact engendered by a variety of contexts is an important factor in determining attitudes about interracial marriage. The contacts in most of the social settings are associated with friendship, yet a majority of the contexts are also related to approval of interracial marriage even when extraneous factors such as friendship, age, gender, income, political party, frequency of religious service attendance, and region are controlled for statistically. The findings provide support for the consideration and utilization of the context of contact as an additional dimension of the contact hypothesis.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Sociology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Intermarriage, Interracial marriage, racial relations, race, marriage, contact, contact hypothesis, intergroup marriage

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Sociology Commons