Collaborative activities such as cricket leads to cross-caste friendships and less caste-based discrimination, says results of a new study by MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in Uttar Pradesh state of India.

The first study to show the impact of nature of interactions on contact between castes was led by PhD Student Matt Lowe.

The study was carried out at eight gram panchayats that had caste-segregated hamlets. It studied 1,261 men aged 14-30, between January and July 2017.

“Collaborative contact increases willingness to interact with men from other castes, reduces own-caste favoritism, and increases efficiency. In contrast, adversarial contact has no positive impacts, and can even have negative effects,” according to the researchers.

It found that being in mixed teams made the youth to have more other-caste friends, and chose more other-caste teammates. The members also put ability over caste in choosing teams.

Compared to the control group (those who were not in mixed groups).

While being in a mixed team increased the number of other-caste friends by 1.2, having all other-caste opponents decreased the number of other-caste friends by 5.5, it found.

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