Youth's Social Cognitive Responses to Scenes of Ethnic Violence

Principal Investigator: L. Rowell Huesmann; Co-Principal Investigators: Eric F. Dubow, Jeremy Ginges, Paul Boxer

Funding Agency

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Project Summary

This project examines the way exposure to media depictions of real-world ethnic and political violence interacts with contextual and personal and factors to affect attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes regarding ethnic groups. We are centrally interested in associations between exposure to media depictions of violence in the Middle East region and the social-cognitive (attitudes, beliefs, stereotypes) of Jewish-American and Arab-American youth about the other group. We expect that greater exposure to middle-eastern violence in the mass media will be associated with more negative ethnic stereotypes about the other group particularly for those with strong ethnic identification with their own group. Individual interviews were conducted with 400 high school students (9th and 12th graders) of diverse backgrounds, but including substantial samples of Arab-American and Jewish-American youth. During these interviews the participants answered questions about their ethnic stereotypes and about their exposure to ethnic-political conflict and violence in the mass media, but they first completed computer reaction-time tasks (known as the IAT and the WIT) that assessed their attitudes and stereotypes toward ethnic groups “implicitly” without them being aware of the purpose. Data analysis is currently ongoing.