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Threat by association

How distant events can affect local intergroup relations
PhD ceremony:T. (Thijs) Bouman, PhD
When:January 14, 2016
Supervisor:S. (Sabine) Otten, Prof
Co-supervisor:prof. dr. M. (Martijn) van Zomeren
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Threat by association

Globalization does not expand our understanding of the world

Negative media reports about, say, IS, the Greek debt crisis or Turkey’s accession to the EU make us more intolerant towards related minorities in our immediate environment. Positive reports, on the other hand, do not have a positive influence on our image of these population groups. These are the findings of a study carried out by psychologist Thijs Bouman, who will be awarded his PhD from the University of Groningen on 14 January.

Bouman has demonstrated an unexpected negative effect of globalization: ‘Whereas globalization could increase our knowledge and understanding of distant countries, the complexity of that information in fact leads to misunderstanding and stereotyping.’ For example, if we read a news report about radicalization in Indonesia, we then have a more negative view of Dutch people of Indonesian descent and of Muslims in the Netherlands. Although they have nothing to do with that news or those developments, it relates to how we process news from so far away, Bouman explains. ‘We look for a way of giving those distant events a place, for example, by unconsciously linking them to associated population groups in our vicinity, to ‘outgroups’. Oddly enough, this only happens with negative news items. In the case of positive news, our views on local outgroups remain neutral.’