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Objective: Many studies investigating contact theory have suggested that contact effects are not universal but rather conditional. In this article, we test one form of conditional contact effects. Our approach posits that contact with out-groups produces support for pro-minority public policies only when in-group members are not subject to contrary messages from co-partisans.

Methods: We use data from an original survey to test this theory in the immigration policy domain.

Results: We find strong confirmatory evidence that the emergence of contact effects on support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is dependent on party identification.

Conclusion: When information from the social environment and that from the party coincide, they reinforce each other, producing more tolerant policy preferences. However, when the two are not congruent, individuals may use partisanship to help interpret contextual information, thus canceling out the positive effects of intergroup contact on policy opinions.