We propose a communication analogue to Allport's (Citation1954) Contact Hypothesis called the Parasocial Contact Hypothesis (PCH). If people process mass-mediated parasocial interaction in a manner similar to interpersonal interaction, then the socially beneficial functions of intergroup contact may result from parasocial contact. We describe and test the PCH with respect to majority group members' level of prejudice in three studies, two involving parasocial contact with gay men (Six Feet Under and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) and one involving parasocial contact with comedian and male transvestite Eddie Izzard. In all three studies, parasocial contact was associated with lower levels of prejudice. Moreover, tests of the underlying mechanisms of PCH were generally supported, suggesting that parasocial contact facilitates positive parasocial responses and changes in beliefs about the attributes of minority group categories.
Edward Schiappa (Ph. D., Northwestern University, 1989) is a Professor and Paul W. Frenzel Chair of Liberal Arts, Peter B. Gregg (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 2005) is a Graduate Instructor, and Dean E. Hewes (Ph.D., Florida State University, 1974) is a Professor in the Communication Studies Department at the University of Minnesota. The authors would like to thank Ascan Koerner, Alan Sillars, Scout Productions, and the anonymous reviewers for their assistance and advice. An earlier version of this manuscript was presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, New Orleans, LA, 2004. Correspondence to: Edward Schiappa, Communication Studies Department, University of Minnesota, 225 Ford Hall, 224 Church St. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. Tel: 612 624 5800;. Email: email@example.com
 In Study 1, reports of degrees of freedom vary due to missing items, since even one unanswered item for one scale on one character would reduce the n for a given test by one.