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Identifying with the "other" through the internet: A comparison of online videogames, text and video in facilitating positive intergroup contact and reducing prejudice

Chad Michael Wertley, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Prejudice between people of differing social groups continues to foster strife on local, national and global levels, and ways to reduce this prejudice remain an important issue. Central to understanding and ameliorating prejudice is an intergroup perspective. An intergroup perspective examines the ways in which identification with social groups affects communication within and between these groups. Intergroup contact theory contends that positive encounters with the "other" can reduce prejudice. In the current study, I examine the potential of the internet to facilitate positive intergroup contact. I explore whether differences in the resulting prejudice change are based on the contact method of the medium (i.e. text, video, and videogame). Using the Contact Space Framework, I discover how specific affordances of the medium (i.e. self-involvement, identification, richness, and presence) through which the intergroup interaction occurs facilitate the prejudice change process. I tested the hypotheses and research question using a between-subjects experimental design. Participants included 197 individuals who completed the study in three parts. First, participants answered a pre-test questionnaire assessing prejudice towards immigrants and refugees. Second, participants completed a randomly assigned task of playing an online videogame, watching a YouTube video, or reading a blog about the refugee experience. Finally, participants answered a post-test questionnaire measuring prejudice and the four components of the Contact Space Framework. Findings revealed that positive intergroup contact can be facilitated through the internet. All three contact modes exhibited a significant reduction in prejudice. The findings also revealed that the Contact Space Framework components of self-involvement, identification, and richness were indicative of prejudice change, while presence was not. Additionally, the role of the components differed depending on the contact mode. The results of this study add to our knowledge of ways to facilitate positive intergroup contact, and improve our understanding of how characteristics of the contact event influence our perceptions of others during intergroup encounters.

Subject Area

Social research|Social psychology|Communication|Web Studies

Recommended Citation

Wertley, Chad Michael, "Identifying with the "other" through the internet: A comparison of online videogames, text and video in facilitating positive intergroup contact and reducing prejudice" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3618604.