Lindsey A Johnson


The following study provides theoretical innovation for a well-known sociological theory in race relations called the contact hypothesis. The contact hypothesis is applied to U.S. evangelical short-term mission trips with the purpose of evaluating the potential these religious initiatives may have in affecting participants’ racial attitudes. Support for the author’s arguments is collected from previous studies and current literature as well as from the author’s own experiences with short-term mission trips. While this study is exploratory in nature, preliminary results indicate that while some of the conditions of the contact hypothesis may be partially met in these trips, others will not be met at all. In fact, certain elements of short-term mission trips may actually reinforce or increase prejudice. While empirical data is needed to confirm this, overall, it can be concluded that short-term mission trips do not create the conditions necessary to reduce prejudice according to the contact hypothesis. 
KEYWORDS: missions, short-term mission trips, contact hypothesis, prejudice