The European Journal of Communication Research
Ed. by Averbeck-Lietz, Stefanie / d'Haenens, Leen
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CiteScore 2018: 0.86
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Entertaining anti-racism. Multicultural television drama, identification and perceptions of ethnic threat
Television content that contains non-stereotypical representations of ethnic minorities and models positive intercultural interactions may potentially aid in reducing the prejudices of its viewers (Brown Graves, Journal of Social Issues 55: 707–727, 1999, Persson, Early Childhood Research Quarterly 18: 530–546, 1999, Shochat, Conflict Resolution Quarterly 21: 2003). However, the exact effect has yet to be demonstrated. Furthermore, the cognitive mechanisms behind such an effect remain unclear. This article tests hypotheses derived from social identity theory and social learning theory that attribute this effect to the identification patterns with ingroup and outgroup characters in television drama. In an experiment (N = 152), participants either watched episodes of a multicultural drama or a regular soap series. Results showed that viewers of multicultural drama had lower perceptions of ethnic threat. Moreover, this effect was mediated by identification with characters, namely, increased identification with outgroup and lowered identification with ingroup characters resulting in lower ethnic threat. The results suggest that short term viewing effects are best explained with social identity theory. The implications for long term effects and the possible role of social learning are analyzed in the discussion.
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