Reducing ethnic prejudice through public communication programs: A Social–psychological perspective

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Journal Article

Television programs aimed at countering ethnic prejudice generally do not have the desired effect, possibly because relevant theoretical insights have been ignored when such videos are designed. Theoretically, three factors appear relevant: (a) stressing similarities between ethnic minorities and the majority population, (b) exposure to many ethnic minorities, and (c) providing explicit information about the aims of the communication. In the present experiment, the effects of specially constructed videos based on these theoretical perspectives were examined. White Dutch participants (N = 261) were assigned to one of eight experimental conditions or to the control condition. Those in the experimental conditions were exposed to a TV spot about ethnic minorities before completing a questionnaire about attitudes toward ethnic minorities. Participants in the control condition completed this questionnaire without watching a TV spot. The eight experimental conditions were formed by the systematic crossing of the three above-mentioned perspectives. Results showed that only the TV spot that included all three perspectives produced more positive judgments of ethnic minorities by the White Dutch participants.

The Journal of Psychology
Type of Article
Journal Article
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Participants Participants were 261 White Dutch men and women (52% women and 48% men), whose average age was 46 years. [...]

Procedure We carried out the experiment in a shopping center in Amsterdam. [...] The participants were randomly assigned to one of eight experimental conditions or to a control condition. Those in the experimental condition were exposed individually to a TV spot about ethnic minorities. The ethnic minorities who were portrayed in the videos came originally from Turkey, Morocco, and Surinam and represented the three major ethnic groups in the Netherlands. [...] After they had watched the TV spots, the participants were handed a questionnaire [...]. Participants in the control condition were invited to complete the questionnaire without watching a TV spot.

Independent Variables 

The three independent variables—similarities, number of ethnic minorities, and type of information—were systematically introduced in the TV spots. [...] In half of the TV spots, we manipulated the similarities variable by emphasizing similarities between White Dutch people and ethnic minorities. [...] In the other half of the spots, we showed the ethnic minorities by themselves [...]; thus, these TV spots did not stress similarities.

We manipulated the number of ethnic minorities variable by showing many ethnic minorities in half of the TV spots and only three in the other [...].

We manipulated the type of information variable by using an announcer who commented on the scenes in half of the TV spots. The rest of the TV spots were presented without sound. [...]

Dependent Variables Attitudes toward ethnic minorities were measured by using Vrij and Winkel's (1991) Ethnic Minorities Attitude Scale (EMAS). [...] Answers were given on a 7-point scale ranging from definitely not (1) to definitely (7). 

Type of Prejudice/Bias