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The role of inter-ethnic online friendships in prejudice reduction in post-conflict societies: Evidence from Serbia, Croatia and Cyprus

Zezelj, I. L., Ioannou, M., Franc, R., Psaltis, C. & Martinovic, B., Nov-2017, In : Computers in Human Behavior. 76, p. 386-395 10 p.

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  • The role of inter-ethnic online friendships in prejudice reduction in post-conflict societies

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DOI

  • Iris L. Zezelj
  • Maria Ioannou
  • Renata Franc
  • Charis Psaltis
  • Borja Martinovic

Direct contact between members of ethnic groups is proven to reduce intergroup prejudice. Recent research, however, explores the effects of alternative types of contact, amongst them via social networks in virtual space. This is especially important for e.g. post-conflict societies in which there is limited opportunity for direct contact between the groups. Drawing from a sample of 374 ethnic majority students from three such societies Serbia, Croatia, and Cyprus, we tested if the number of online inter ethnic friends predicted more positive out-group attitudes over and above the effect of face-to-face contacts. This relationship testified to the added value of online ties. We also tested if intergroup anxiety and perceived ethnic threat would mediate the relationship between online friendships and out-group attitudes. Results from the combined sample showed clear mediation effects. This suggested that the mechanisms through which online contact reduces prejudice are comparable to the mechanisms detected for face-to-face contact. Yet the mediation was not convincingly replicated at the country level. Further research could make use of this simple measure of alternative contact, as well as test a different set of mediators to identify mechanisms that are possibly unique to online contacts. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-395
Number of pages10
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume76
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2017

    Keywords

  • Online friendships, Out-group attitudes, Intergroup anxiety, Perceived ethnic threat, Post-conflict societies, IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS, CONTACT HYPOTHESIS, METAANALYTIC TEST, ATTITUDES, ANXIETY, IMMIGRANTS, COMMUNITY, CHILDREN

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