Reducing prejudice through narratives: An examination of the mechanisms of vicarious intergroup contact.

Publication Year


Journal Article

Recent extensions to the contact hypothesis reveal that different forms of contact, such as mediated intergroup contact, can reduce intergroup anxiety and improve attitudes toward the outgroup. This study draws on existing research to further consider the role of identification with an ingroup character within a narrative depicting intergroup contact between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans. Results reveal that identification with the non-Muslim (ingroup) model facilitated liking the Muslim (outgroup) model, which reduced prejudice toward Muslims more generally. Identification with the ingroup model also increased conversational self-efficacy and reduced anxiety about future intergroup interactions - both important aspects of improving intergroup relations.

Journal of Media Psychology
Type of Article
Journal Article
Full text

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Participants and Procedure A total of 152 undergraduates at a large Midwestern university in the United States (63% female) between the ages of 18 and 38 (M = 20.96, SD = 2.67) participated in an experiment [...] The majority of participants (68.6%) identified as White, 19.6% as Asian or Pacific Islander, 6.5% as African American, 2.6% as Hispanic or Latino, 2% as Native American, and 0.7% as other. [...] Participants first completed an online pretest measuring racial identity, religion, and demographic information. At least 1 day after completing the pretest, participants attended a lab session where they were randomly assigned to either the experimental or control condition where they viewed one of two episodes of 30 Days individually on a computer with headphones. One episode featured an intergroup interaction between Muslim and non-Muslim characters whereas the other did not. Immediately after viewing their assigned episode, participants completed a posttest questionnaire regarding their reactions to the program and their attitudes toward Muslims and willingness to engage in intergroup contact with Muslims. One week later, participants completed an online delayed posttest questionnaire that again measured their attitudes toward Muslims and willingness to engage in contact. [...]

Stimulus Material Participants were randomly assigned to view one of two episodes of 30 Days [...]


Identification Identification with the ingroup character in the experimental episode was measured using six items from Cohen’s (2001) identification scale [...]

Liking Liking of the main outgroup character in 30 Days was measured using seven items [...] adapted from the 20-item parasocial interaction scale and the social attraction scale [...]

Self-Efficacy Self-efficacy regarding future intergroup contact was measured with four items designed to assess participants’ confidence in their ability to communicate with Muslim individuals in various aspects of life. To this end, participants were asked how confident they were that they could socialize, befriend, get along with, and effectively communicate with a Muslim person [...]

Anxiety Anxiety was measured using six items from Stephan and Stephan’s intergroup anxiety scale (1 = not at all, 5 = very much). Participants indicated the extent to which they would feel awkward, defensive, anxious, relaxed, comfortable, and at ease when mixing socially with complete strangers who are Muslim [...]

Collective Guilt Collective guilt was measured using five items adapted from Brown, González, Zagefka, Manzi, and Čehajić (2008) [...]

Prejudice Against Muslims Prejudice against Muslims was measured at the posttest and delayed posttest using six items from Park, Felix, and Lee’s anti-Muslim prejudice scale [...]

Willingness to Engage in Intergroup Contact Willingness to engage in intergroup contact was measured at the posttest and delayed posttest assessment using five items adapted from Esses and Dovidio’s scale by the same name [...] Enjoyment of the stimulus was also assessed with a single item in order to compare participants’ overall responses to the two stimuli [...]

Type of Prejudice/Bias