Apr 4, 2022 • 1HR 9M

#86: Tom Pettigrew on How Experience Shapes Belief

Cognitive Revolution | Tom is the progenitor of intergroup contact theory in social psychology. In this episode, we talk about where the ideas behind that theory came from.

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Cody Kommers
Welcome to the Meaning Lab podcast. In each episode, I talk to a scientist, author, or artist about their approach to meaning-making — from language, to productivity, to writing, to travel. It's all fair game, as long as it gets us closer to understanding how we make sense of the world and our place in it.
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This is Cognitive Revolution, my show about the personal side of the intellectual journey. Each week, I interview an eminent scientist, writer, or academic about the experiences that shaped their ideas. The show is available wherever you listen to podcasts.

Tom Pettigrew is professor emeritus in the psychology department at UC Santa Cruz. He is best known as the main proponent of one of social psychology’s most prominent ideas: intergroup contact theory. In this episode, we talk about how Tom was expelled from Jr High school for standing up to a racist teacher, the formative experiences that sparked his insights into intergroup contact, the mentorship of Gordon Allport, his extended trip to apartheid South Africa, how Allport's four factors for positive intergroup contact really came from Tom himself, how Tom's thinking about intergroup contact has changed over the years, and the role of social psychological in large-scale political and societal change.

Like this episode? Here’s another one to check out:

Against Habit
Gordon Allport: The 20th Century's Psychologist (Pt 1)
Born in Montezuma, Indiana, in 1897, Gordon Allport was not a New Englander. He was not bred into the Harvard tradition, nor was he uniformly smitten with it; but by the end of his career he would have spent the better part of five decades on the Harvard campus. Nonetheless, he was brought up with all the intensity of an élite, Puritanical New England f…
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