The Influence of Video Clip Depictions of Middle Easterners on Attitudes Toward Them
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MARTINEZ, T. I. (2002). The Influence of Video Clip Depictions of Middle Easterners on Attitudes Toward Them. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 5. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved December 17, 2018
TAMARA I. MARTINEZ
LOYOLAUNIVERSITY OFNEW ORLEANS DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY
Sponsored by: MUKUL BHALLA (email@example.com)
|AbstractThe study was conducted to see if there was a causal relationship between the type of Middle Eastern portrayal people were exposed to (via video clips) and its influence on peoples’ levels of prejudice. Seventeen male and thirty-seven female college students between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two participated. The participants were assigned to one of the three groups: negative experimental group, positive experimental group, or control group. It was hypothesized that the level of prejudice would be greater in the individuals that were assigned to the negative and control groups. Prejudice levels were higher in the control and negative experimental groups but the results were not statistically significant and as a result did not support the original hypothesis. |
INTRODUCTION Prejudices have long existed, since as far back as biblical times. One such prejudice is racial prejudice or racism, in which a person or group of people are negatively prejudged and considered inferior because of their race (Myers, 2001). Many conditions have been found to cause prejudice. Fear of competition and economic threat are only two of the many causes (Quillian, 1995). There have been many conditions or situations that have elicited prejudice. Recently in the United States, racial prejudice has led to non-violent discriminatory acts such as harassments, threats, and racial profiling. It has also been the cause of the more serious, violent discriminatory acts, which include physical beatings and deaths. Both types of discriminatory acts were observed in the United States immediately following the September 11th Attack. The targeted minority groups were Middle Easterners; specifically, they were Muslims and Arabs. Since many of the terrorists were Arab, all Arabs residing in the United States became suspects (Seikaly, 2001). The targeted group later extended to anyone who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent. Hispanics, among other groups, became the targets (Pain, 2002). Following the attack, many Middle Easterners experienced violent incidences in the United States. These violent incidences included assault and battery and deaths (Jacinto, 2001). Though not all Middle Easterners experienced violent forms of discrimination; many have endured non-violent forms of discrimination such as detainment (Schemo, 2002). Racial prejudice has recently resurfaced in the United States and as a result has become a topic of interest. It has always been the root of various social problems. Being able to understand human behavior has always been an important goal to psychologists and other professionals, because it has been the first step in being able to eliminate or reduce social problems such as racial prejudice and stereotypes. Stereotypes have been found to be highly correlated to the occurrence of prejudice. One study that examined racial issues such as prejudice and stereotypes was conducted by Gordijn, Koomen, and Stapel (2001). The study examined prejudice and its effects on cultural stereotypes. It had two aims: to see if stereotypes about minority groups were known within societies and to see if the participants’ knowledge of stereotypes was influenced by their own level of prejudice. The 165 Dutch students who participated in the study answered a questionnaire on the computers. The participants were seated in a computer laboratory and told to answer the questionnaire via the keyboard. They were tested on their knowledge of cultural stereotypes about Moroccan and Surinamese people in the Netherlands, even though researchers stressed that they were not interested in the participants’ own personal views. To trick the participants’ into giving their own views, researchers told them to give the views that they thought Dutch people had of Moroccan and Surinamese people. The results indicated that the level of prejudice was correlated to the perception of stereotypes. People who expressed high levels of prejudice believed that the stereotypes of Moroccan and Surinamese people were more negative in content than did the participants’ who expressed low levels of prejudice. The results concluded that the extent to which people recall negative stereotypes depends on the level of prejudice that they posses. Therefore, to reduce stereotypes one must first reduce prejudice. Another research study that dealt with negative stereotypes was that of Wheeler, Jarvis, and Petty (2001). Their aim was to examine the relationship between being personally associated with a negative stereotype and performing a specific task that was considered unfitting for that stereotype. In this study the negative stereotype that was used was one that is stereotypical in the U.S., which is that African-Americans have poor math ability. There were a total of 89 non-African-American participants in the first experiment and a total of 68 non-African-American participants in the second experiment. In the first experiment, participants were assigned the name “Tyrone” or “Eric.” The name Tyrone was supposed to elicit the perception that Tyrone was African-American and the name Eric was respectively supposed to elicit the perception that he was White. After the names were assigned, participants were told to write a brief story about the person whose name they were assigned to. Though they were not told to write in first person, some of the participants did. The majority wrote their story in third person. After the writing assignment was completed, some were asked to participate in the second experiment, which was a continuation of the first. In the second experiment, participants were asked to give the name to which they had been assigned to in the first experiment; afterwards they were each given a math test to take. Those who were assigned the name Tyrone scored lower than those participants who were assigned the name Eric. An important finding in the study was that the participants who were primed with the African-American stereotype, and in addition believed that Tyrone was African-American and wrote the story in first person, did worse overall than the rest of the participants. These findings concluded that personal association of negative stereotypes cause people to carry out specific, stereotypic behavior. In other words, people live out the stereotype because they start believing it. Though both studies examined different issues, they were similar in several ways. For instance, they both examined negative stereotypes pertaining to minorities, and their results indicated that stereotypes are not location-bound; but rather, stereotypes are universally found. Also, another similarity that was found was the effect of prejudice on the extent to which participants believed the negative stereotypes. In the first study it was found that the higher the level of prejudice, the more negative stereotypes were believed to be true. In the second study, participants who were assigned the name “Tyrone” scored lower than those who were assigned the name “Eric.” This meant that the participants who were assigned to “Tyrone” believed the negative stereotype to be true, which would then imply that they were prejudiced in some degree (Wheeler et al., 2001). Both of these findings are supportive of earlier research, which concluded that stereotyping is highly correlated with the occurrence of prejudice (Myers, 2001). The present research, in correlation with past studies on prejudice, planned to further examine the concept of prejudice. This time however, prejudice was studied in relation to Middle Easterners, who have since the September 11th attack been the number one target for racial prejudice in the United States. Like previous studies on prejudice, this study also planned to add to the literature, new findings about prejudice. It was the next step in research because it was the first of its kind to have examined the psychological impact of a historical event immediately after its occurrence. The procedure used to gather data in this study was through the experimental design. Participants were assigned to watch one of three videos. The experimental groups were shown video clips that depicted Middle Easterners either positively or negatively. The third video, which was shown to the control group, contained no depictions of Middle Easterners. The independent variable in the study was the type of depiction the Middle Easterners were given. The dependent variable was the level of prejudice. It was expected that participants who were shown the video clip of the footage of the attack (negative clip) would show higher levels of prejudice than those who were shown the video of Middle Easterners speaking out against the September 11th Attack (positive clip). It was also expected that participants who were shown the video clip that contained no depictions (neutral clip) would show a moderate level of prejudice.
METHOD MethodParticipants Participants were 54 Loyola University students between the ages of 18-22. Convenience sampling was used. The participants were recruited by emails, fliers, and personal contact. As an incentive to participate in the study, food and beverages were offered. Extra credit was also given to students whose teachers offered it. Approximately 74% of the participants were Caucasian, 14% were Hispanic, 7% were Asian, and 5% were African American. None of the participants were of Middle Eastern descent. From this sample group 87% were Christian, 1% was atheist, and the remaining 11% were from a religious group that was unknown. The participants whose religious background was unknown had chosen the option “other” on the questionnaire. Other religious background options were: Jewish, Nondenominational, and Muslim. Materials The supplies that were used in the study were consent forms, 3 video clips, and questionnaires that consisted of 50 questions. Students were given two consent forms; one was for their own personal record and the other one was for the researchers’ record. The consent forms contained the investigators’ contact information, counseling service contact information, and the website where the results of the research study would be posted. The video clips that were used in the study were each five minutes long. The one that was shown to the first experimental group was a broadcasted footage of the September 11th Attack. Particularly, it was the scene of the airplanes colliding into the World Trade Centers (negative clip). The video clip that was shown to the second experimental group was one in which a group of Middle Easterners were speaking out against the attack and were explaining that not all Middle Easterners should be considered bad (positive clip). The video clip that was shown to the control group was a scene from the movie “Jurassic Park.” This movie was specifically chosen for the control group because it lacked depictions of Middle Easterners and any race related issues. The scene that was picked was the one in which the Tyrannosauruses Rex aggressively attacked the Ford Explorer while the children were inside the vehicle. This scene was purposely chosen because it was intense and violent, which was equivalent to the intensity levels that the other two experimental videos contained.The questionnaire consisted of a total of 50 questions. Eight of them were background questions such as “My cultural background is…” Examples of questions that appeared on the rest of the questionnaire were “ ‘How often do you witness acts of racial discrimination such as degrading racial slurs, racial jokes, physical beatings, etc.?’ and ‘How often do you make stereotypical comments about people of a different cultural background?’” There were 25 questions pertaining to society’s view of racial prejudice. Some of these questions specifically asked about racial prejudice towards Middle Easterners. The remaining 19 questions pertained to the participants’ own personal view of racial prejudice. These questions also specifically asked about racial prejudice towards Middle Easterners. A copy of the questionnaire is included in the appendix. Design and Procedure The present study was a single variable between group design. The depictions of Middle Easterners was the independent variable and it consisted of three levels: positive, negative, or no depiction. The dependent variable was the level of prejudice among individuals, which was measured by scores obtained from the questionnaire. Scores between 44-110 were considered low levels of prejudice, scores between 111-160 were considered moderate levels of prejudice, and scores between 161-220 were considered high levels of prejudice. It was necessary to maintain consistency within the study because any deviations may have potentially skewed the results. One way the researcher tried to maintain consistency was by accurately timing the video clips and by making sure that the duration was the same for all three. The researcher also took care of eliminating any extraneous factors that may have influenced the control group by choosing a video clip that lacked race issues, bombings/explosives, and hijackings. All of the 54 participants were greeted upon entering and were told that the purpose of the study was to learn more about college students and attitudes. Participants who came on the first day were randomly assigned to the control group. This group was shown the “neutral” clip, which contained no depictions of Middle Easterners. Those who came on the second day were randomly assigned to the “negative” video clip, and the participants who came on the last day were assigned to the “positive” video clip. Before the experiments began, they were given consent forms and asked if they had any questions regarding the experiment. After the questions were answered, they were collectively shown one of the three video clips, which lasted approximately five minutes. When the video clips were finished, the researcher randomly distributed the questionnaires to each participant. They were given as much time as they needed to complete the questionnaire, but most participants finished within 15 minutes. Immediately after all of the questionnaires were collected by the researcher, the participants were debriefed and told not to discuss the content of the study. During the debriefing, participants were told what the actual purpose of the study was, which was to see if the video clips’ portrayal of Middle Easterners affected the participants’ level of racial prejudice. The researcher in this study defined racial prejudice as negative or prejudicial judgments towards people of a given race. After the researcher revealed the study’s true purpose, she thoroughly explained her hypothesis.
RESULTS ResultsAn Analysis of Variance test was used to determine if there was a causal relationship between depictions of Middle Easterners and prejudicial attitudes. These variables were the positive, negative, and neutral video clips, and the scores calculated from the questionnaires, which determined the participants’ levels of prejudice. It was hypothesized that the participants who were exposed to the negative and neutral video clips would have higher levels of prejudice than the participants who were exposed to the positive video clip. In a sample of 54 participants, it was found that all three groups had moderate levels of prejudice. The negative experimental and control group had slightly higher levels of prejudice than the positive experimental group. Even though the levels of prejudice were higher in the negative experimental and control groups, the results were not statistically significant as is shown in table 1. Table 1Means and Standard Deviations for the Three Groups and Six Dependent Variables Control Negative Positive Variables________ M SD_________ M SD__ ___ _M SD____Experience Questions 3.4 .79 3.4 .48 3.2 .57F (2,51) = .299, p = .743Action Questions 3.6 .59 3.6 .72 3.7 .60F (2,51) = .337, p = .715Influence Questions 3.1 .63 3.0 .59 3.2 .66F (2,51) = .423, p = .657Stereotype Questions 4.1 .65 4.1 .43 4.1 .77F (2,51) = .081, p = .922Thought Questions 3.6 .39 3.5 .35 3.5 .42F (2,51) = .392, p = .678Feeling Questions 3.9 .32 3.9 .36 3.8 .68F (2,51) = .684, p = .509
DISCUSSION Discussion In this study, it was hypothesized that if participants are shown a negative or a neutral portrayal of Middle Easterners, then they will have higher levels of prejudice then participants who are shown positive portrayals of Middle Easterners. The main variables compared in the study were assigned groups containing negative, positive, or no depictions of Middle Easterners and the scores obtained from the questionnaires, which measured the participants’ levels of prejudice. The findings in this study did not support the original hypothesis, which stated that participants who are exposed to negative or neutral depictions of Middle Easterners would have higher levels of prejudice than participants who are exposed to positive depictions of Middle Easterners.A possible reason why the hypothesis was not adequately supported may have been because the sample group was too small. This factor, as a result, threatened the external validity of the study since the results could not be generalized. Another factor that may have contributed to the lack of support was that the sample group was made up of college students from a private liberal arts university. Consequently, the results that were obtained were probably not a true representation of the entire population since only a specific segment of the population participated. Past research studies such as those conducted by Gordijn, Koomen, and Stapel (2000), which included 165 participants, and the study conducted by Wheeler, Jarvis, and Petty (2000), which included 89 participants in the first experiment and 68 participants in the second experiment, had larger sample sizes and hence accurately represented the population (2000). Another reason why the hypothesis may not have been adequately supported may have been because the sample group was predominately White and Catholic. Although there were 85 participants at the end of the recruitment period, many of which were minorities, they were eliminated for various reasons such as failure to answer all questions and selecting more than one answer. Of the participants who were eliminated from the study, 4 were Middle Eastern. Though the number was small, it would have been interesting to see how their answers would have affected the results. Similarly, however, to past studies, this study also incorporated the issue of stereotypes (2000). Gordijn, Koomen, and Stapel’s study focused on the correlation between stereotypes and prejudice. Wheeler, Jarvis, and Petty’s study, in conjunction with this study, focused more on other factors as a cause of prejudice whilst at the same time integrating stereotypes as a contributor to prejudice. The stereotypical depictions of the targeted group in this study, which was that Middle Easterners are suspicious, may have elicited prejudicial thoughts even in persons who are normally not prejudice, thus creating a false conception of individuals’ prejudicial attitudes. This possibility may have had an effect on validity because the results that were analyzed may have been due to the presence of a stereotype, rather than to the depictions of Middle Easterners. Improvements in future studies should include: obtaining a larger sample size, recruiting participants from various universities, and equalizing the percentage of participants from a given cultural background. These improvements would make the sample group more representative of the population, which would in turn, make the results more generalizabe or applicable to them, hence increasing external validity. A suggestion to the problem that related to stereotypes and prejudicial attitudes would be to give the targeted group a depiction that opposes or contradicts stereotypes associated with them, which would therefore eliminate the possibility of stereotypes influencing the results. Future research should explore the correlation between a person’s prejudicial attitudes towards Middle Easterners and his/her place of residence. Perhaps there is a correlation between being a native of New York City and having higher levels of prejudice towards Middle Easterners. It would be interesting to further explore that concept and see if there is a correlation between the distance away one lives from New York City and one’s level of prejudicial attitudes towards Middle Easterners. Results might indicate that people living in the western part of the United States might have lower levels of prejudice than those living in the eastern part of the United States, since their place of residence was further away from where the attack took place. Since some people operate on the notion of “out-of-sight-out-of-mind”, their levels of prejudice may be lower than those living closer to the place of the attack because their location may contain fewer cues of the incidence, hence being reminded of it less than those living closer. Additionally, future research studies should investigate the relationship between the amount of socialization with individuals of a different cultural background and prejudicial attitudes towards them. Perhaps people who frequently socialize with individuals of different cultural backgrounds may be found to have lower levels of prejudice than those who hardly socialize with individuals of different cultural backgrounds, thus implying that knowing less about persons of different cultural backgrounds increases ones chances of having higher levels of prejudice. Conclusively, this study attempted to examine whether there is a causal relationship between video clip depictions of Middle Easterners and prejudicial attitudes towards them. Even though the original hypothesis was not supported, this study showed that there are some worthy of note underlying tendencies. Theoretical implications of the results revealed that depictions of Middle Easterners did affect the participants’ levels of prejudice even though they were not statistically significant. The exposure in the study lasted only five minutes; in real life, however, people are constantly being exposed to positive and negative depictions by the media. Perhaps, in real life, the depictions are influential to the degree that the results are statistically significant, thus implying that a longer period of exposure to positive and negative depictions affects individuals’ levels of prejudice. In addition to theoretical implications, the results also indicated practical implications, which suggested that every person, no matter what group he or she was assigned to, encompassed a certain level of prejudice. In real life, people are sometimes bias or prejudice even when they do not mean to be. Sometimes this may result in a change of behavior. For example, while conducting this study, the researcher had to be extremely careful in treating all of the participants the same, for if her demeanor would have been different with one of the groups, the results would have been affected. Throughout the study, the researcher had to keep in mind the notion of unintentional bias, so as to prevent any affects on the dependent variable, which was level of prejudice towards Middle Easterners.
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CONTACT INFORMATION Dept. of Psychology Loyola University New Orleans, LA 70118 (504) 865-3095 email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Submitted 5/21/2002 12:06:36 AM
Last Edited 5/21/2002 12:16:31 AM
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