Structured, intergroup communication that occurs in a deliberative discussion context can be an effective method for improving intergroup relations. Conceptualizing this unique kind of communication as deliberative contact, this study experimentally examined its effect and mechanisms based on two Deliberative Polling projects, conducted in two different countries: Australia (N = 339) and Bulgaria (N = 230). Results indicated that deliberative contact with a minority group member during small-group discussions increased support for policies that were beneficial to the minority group. This effect of deliberative contact was marginally stronger among those who had more negative contact experiences with the minority group in the past. Furthermore, deliberative contact effects were mediated by altered perceptions about the minority group’s structural disadvantages in society, but not by an increase in factual knowledge about the outgroup.

Research Paper