Does personal contact with ethnic minorities affect anti-immigrant sentiments? Evidence from a field experiment

Henning Finseraas and Andreas Kotsadam

Published in:

European Journal of Political Research, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp. 703-722, August 2017

DOI: 10.1111/1475-6765.12199


This article explores the causal effect of personal contact with ethnic minorities on majority members’ views on immigration, immigrants’ work ethics, and support for lower social assistance benefits to immigrants than to natives. Exogenous variation in personal contact is obtained by randomising soldiers into different rooms during the basic training period for conscripts in the Norwegian Army's North Brigade. Based on contact theory of majority–minority relations, the study spells out why the army can be regarded as an ideal contextual setting for exposure to reduce negative views on minorities. The study finds a substantive effect of contact on views on immigrants’ work ethics, but small and insignificant effects on support for welfare dualism, as well as on views on whether immigration makes Norway a better place in which to live.

Published Dec. 1, 2017 3:48 PM - Last modified Dec. 1, 2017 3:48 PM