Effects of Similarity with Media Portrayals on Recipients’ Stigmatization of People with Disabilities
TU Dortmund University, Germany
Professionals in the health care and management sector are key figures for determining the levels of individual and structural stigmatization for people with mental health problems or disabilities, and are therefore common target groups for anti-stigma communication (e.g., Corrigan et al., 2014). Particularly mass media play an important role in shaping attitudes towards stigmatized individuals (e.g., Sieff, 2003). The current experimental study examines how audience characteristics and message characteristics interact in shaping stigmatizing attitudes and behavioral intentions after reading media portrayals of persons with a mental health problem or disability. Research in the context of social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954) and social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986) suggests (e.g., Author et al., 2006; Kim, Shi, & Cappella, 2016) that recipients are more favorable towards highly similar media characters (in-group comparisons) than towards dissimilar ones (out-group comparisons).Building on this theoretical framework , we presume that media messages featuring similarity cues regarding audience characteristics that are relevant for social comparisons are more persuasive than messages that lack these targeting cues. More specifically, we hypothesize that recipients will report less stigmatizing attitudes and behavioral intentions towards individuals with a mental health problem or a disability if the portrayed exemplar has the same sex, professional context, or hierarchical status. We also investigate if the depicted disability type (mental health problem vs. physical disability) affects anti-stigma outcomes. A fictional magazine cover was experimentally manipulated with regard to sex congruency (exemplar’s sex congruent vs. non-congruent with recipients’ sex), occupational context (matched vs. unmatched to students’ course programs), hierarchy (same status vs. superior status), and type of disability (depression vs. paraplegia), resulting in a 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 between-subjects design. Participant were 500 German university students from different courses in health care or management (M = 23.13 years; SD = 3.28; 70.0% female). Stigma-related attitudes and behavioral intentions towards people with disabilities were measured with Seifert and Bergmann’s (1983) attitudes toward disabled persons scale, Angermeyer and Matschinger’s (1995) social distance scale, and a German translation of the reported and intentional behavior scale (RIBS; Evans-Lacko et al., 2011). We found partial support for our assumptions: Students’ responses towards persons with a disability in a similar hierarchical status that had the same sex were more positive than towards an exemplar of the opposite sex in the same position. Yet, exemplars featuring a combination of opposite characteristics also evoked positive behavioral intentions. Further positive effects of a matched occupational context were found for management students with regard to portrayals of persons with depression and similar hierarchical status. Yet, these findings did not emerge for health care-students or for exemplars with paraplegia. Exemplars with depression evoked significantly more stigma than exemplars with paraplegia in both groups.Sex congruency, hierarchical status, and disability type undoubtedly deserve further attention for understanding stigma effects, as do mediating and moderating factors. Consequences and implications for anti-stigma research and adequate media coverage of people with a mental health problem or disability will be discussed.
Refusing Hate: Counter-Arguing moderates the Effects of Hate Speech on Prejudice and Integration Intentions
1University of Cologne, Germany; 2Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany
In the last two years, the world has faced the largest number of refugees since WWII, numerous of them seeking asylum in Germany. While a large proportion of residents welcome them, others react with fear and hate. Especially online, the expression of hate against refugees has become frequent. Governmental and civic actors fear that this online hate speech could increase prejudice and impair integration. For that reason they call for counter speech. Counter speech can either directly address hateful messages or convey a positive image of the target group (alternative speech).
The current study focused on the later and examined the effects of hate speech and alternative speech on participants’ implicit and explicit attitudes towards (Arab) refugees as well as on their integration intentions.
Prior studies identified two factors that could influence the effect of hate speech on prejudice: (1) the relative proportion of hate speech as compared to neutral stimuli, with larger proportions decreasing users’ resistance against hate and (2) users’ initial resistance against hateful comments. For the first time we considered both factors by systematically varying the amount of hate speech and alternative speech; and by examining the role of reactance as resistance motivation and counter-arguing as active resistance behavior. We expected that hate speech would have different effects on participants’ attitudes and intentions depending on (a) the presence versus absence of alternative speech on the stimuli’s side; and depending on (b) the level of reactance and/or counter-arguing on the participants’ side.
We tested this assumption in an online experiment with N=391 individuals (131 males). All participants read an online article dealing with a communal policy regarding refugees presented together with 12 comments ostensible posted by other readers. Depending on condition, these comments represented either hate speech, alternative speech, a mixture of both or were neutral (between-subjects design). Afterwards, participants rated their resistance motivation and active resistance via counter-arguing. Finally, they completed an implicit association test measuring their implicit prejudice towards Arabs, filled out an explicit measure of their attitudes towards Arab refugees and reported their integration intentions.
An initial inspection of the data showed that individuals reported more active counter-arguing in the hate speech condition than in the neutral or alternative speech condition. There were no differences between individuals in the hate speech and the mixed condition or between those in the neutral and the alternative speech condition, speaking against our assumption that the amount of alternative speech would influence individuals’ response towards hate speech.
Thus, we collapsed the data for the subsequent analyses, comparing individuals that were exposed to hate speech with those who were not. A series of moderation analyses showed that counter-arguing moderated the effects of hate speech on explicit (but not implicit) attitudes and integration intentions. For individuals with low levels of active resistance via counter-arguing, the exposure to hate speech strongly predicted negative attitudes and decreased integration intentions, whereas for individuals with average or high levels of counter-arguing hate speech had no effects. Results are discussed regarding their implications.
If Everyone Liked Migrants, Would You? An Experimental Study on the Influence of Descriptive Norms and Numerical Information on Attitudes Towards Migrants
Humboldt- Universität zu Berlin, Germany
Authors: Lisa Reiber, Ruth Ditlmann*
The media is a powerful tool for communicating social norms. Research on social norms has established that people tend to shift their behavior towards entrenched social norms, does this also hold true for attitudes?
In the current research project we set out to test how specific content of print media, namely social norms, affect German’s attitudes towards migrants. This question is based on social identity theory assuming that norms powerfully shape the behavior of individuals who see themselves as members of the group for whom the norms apply. In addition to social norms, media provides information cues, and we’re interested in how specific cues regarding the number of migrants interact with social norms. Here we build on work by Sides and Citrin (2007) showing that people generally tend to overestimate the size of foreign-born populations, and we look into the connection of the innumeracy about migrant populations and attitudes towards them.
We predicted that the perceived negative general attitude towards migrants (social norm) and an overstated perceived number of migrants in Germany (numerical information) would interplay to shape negative individual attitudes towards migrants. In an online experiment with a 2 (social norms: positive negative) X 3 (numerical cue: understated, overstated, control) between subjects design, participants (N=632) received different information regarding the descriptive social norm of how the majority of Germans feel towards migrants (“According to a new study, two thirds of Germans approve (disapprove) of migrants”), paired with varying information regarding the number of migrants in Germany (“According to the German Federal Statistics Office there are 8.7 (13.1) million migrants (about 11 (16) percent) from 194 different countries, who live in Germany”). While there was no significant effect for numerical cues, data analysis with t-statistics and linear regression models revealed a main effect of social norms. Participants who were exposed to negative social norms had more negative attitudes than participants exposed to positive social norms (p= 0.01). More detailed sub-group analysis revealed, that this effect is driven by conservative political orientation.
The moderation of the social norm’s effect on attitude by political orientation and the lack of a significant effect regarding the numerical cues raise questions for further research. In closing, we will discuss questions such as: Is the moderation effect of political orientation connected to conservativeness itself or did liberals not react to the treatment because they did not identify with the reference group?
(*Lisa Reiber: thesis project, Ruth Ditlmann: supervisor)
Smartphones as social actors
Julius-Maximilians-Universität in Würzburg, Germany
Previous research from various disciplines has focussed human-computer-interaction (Reeves & Nass, 1996). Besides a more technological approach a psychological perspective has been introduced studying the users regarding their cognitions, emotions, motivations, and behavior while interacting with devices (Johnson & Gardner, 2007). The idea that interacting with technology elicits “human responses” is not new. The CASA paradigm considering ‘computer as social agents’ revealed individual's’ tendency to unintentionally adopt social rules and norms (e.g. rules of politeness) when interacting with computers (Nass, Steuer & Tauber, 1994). Social cues allegedly sent intentionally by the devices trigger automatic (unconscious) social behavior. This study extends previous research regarding media equation which showed that desktop PCs were assessed differently when speaking with a male or a female voice (Lee & Nass, 2000) or when giving polite feedback as opposed to impolite feedback (Reeves & Nass, 1996) thus indicating that gender stereotypes and social norms are applied to human-computer interaction just as they are to human-human interaction.
We transferred the CASA paradigm originally focussing desktop PCs to smartphones, today’s most popular device, asking if users apply gender stereotypes and social rules of politeness when interacting with talking phones. 85 participants were asked to interact with either a male or a female smartphone (applied by the voice the mobile devices were using) giving either polite or impolite feedback. During this interaction participants were asked to disclose personal information to help with creating a new, highly personalized internet search algorithm. The constructed situation served as a cover story to provide an interaction that enabled the smartphones to feedback the participants’ performance.
Using a modified version of the implicit association test (IAT) the participants’ attitude towards the smartphone was measured. This type of measurement requires the participants to answer without consciously thinking about how the smartphone should be rated as they were under time pressure. Seen as the effects of the CASA paradigm occur unconsciously, as is stated in previous research, this kind of assessment seemed suitable. The smartphone was rated two times by the participants. Before and after the smartphone gave its feedback. Results show that polite (d = 0.37) and impolite feedback have a significant impact on the following rating, with impolite feedback leading to a substantially worse assessment of the smartphone (d = 0.74). We found no significant effects for smartphone gender. Interacting with an impolite smartphone resulted in equally bad ratings whether it used a male or a female voice.
The results show that participants unintentionally adopted social rules of politeness when interacting with a smartphone: a polite feedback of a smartphone resulted in a polite feedback of the participants and vice versa. These results are comparable with the politeness rules of human-human interactions and therefore relevant for further research in the fields of the CASA paradigm. The results also support that the paradigm can be transferred from human-computer to human-smartphone interaction.